The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Saturday, May 21, 2005

The cost of war

Salon rounds up some disturbing statistics about the Bush brand of fiscal conservatism. The richest country in the world is skating on pretty thin ice-- and you can imagine how serious it is when the Heritage Foundation starts agreeing with the Brookings Institution on matters of fiscal policy.

The U.S. has already spent $320 billion on all military operations since September 11, 2001, according to a Congressional Research Service analysis -- nearly as much as the $350 billion (adjusted for inflation) spent on the Korean war effort. The fighting is "lasting longer, and is more intense, and the cost to keep troops in the theater of operations is proving to be much greater than anyone anticipated," wrote Democratic Rep. John Spratt of South Carolina in a recent report, according to the Christian Science Monitor. Not only does the war in Iraq grow more expensive by the month, the cost of materials and maintenance increases the longer that the fighting is sustained. How high will the cost go? According to the Congressional Budget Office, possibly as high as $600 billion by 2010, if operations continue at the same rate.

Needless to say, war expenses have added several bricks to an already huge pile of federal debt, now estimated at $45 trillion by David Walker, the Comptroller General. At a meeting on Tuesday, Walker and economic analysts from the Heritage Foundation and the Brookings Institute agreed that drastic reductions in spending are required to avert a major economic crisis, one on the scale of Argentina's collapse in 2001. By 2040, the only way to balance the budget, they concluded, would be to reduce federal spending by 60 percent, mostly from programs such as Medicare and Social Security -- or to increase taxes to more than two times the present rate."