Via Think Progress comes this chart from the House Democratic Caucus. Click the chart for a larger view.
As Brad DeLong remarks, " The last five of these are, I think, the worst from the point of view of their long-run implications."
The occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan generate a multitude of costs beyond the 2-3 billion per week they drain. It's taken a massive toll on our economy and facilitates the old Republican strategy of starving the beast to further erode domestic programs. Meanwhile, as DeLong notes (and we have before), the loss of American prestige internationally greatly hurts us on trade, on diplomacy, and national security.
These are additional reasons that Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' new book The Three Trillion Dollar War may represent a quite conservative estimate. As McClatchy reports:
When other factors are added — such as interest on debt, future borrowing for war expenses, the cost of a continued military presence in Iraq and lifetime health-care and counseling for veterans — they think that the wars' costs range from $5 trillion to $7 trillion.
How shocking that the Bush administration would make personal attacks in response:
“People like Joe Stiglitz lack the courage to consider the cost of doing nothing and the cost of failure. One can’t even begin to put a price tag on the cost to this nation of the attacks of 9/11,” said White House spokesman Tony Fratto, conceding that the costs of the war on terrorism are high while questioning the premise of Stiglitz’s research.
Fratto is 41, an adult, speaking for the administration running the most powerful nation on the planet. And this is the level of discourse he chooses? Fratto essentially called Stiglitz, a Nobel prize winner, a wimp for doing his job competently and being a member of the reality-based community. Notice the implication, yet again, that invading Iraq had something to do with 9/11, and questioned Stiglitz' patriotism as well. The Bush administration has created disaster after disaster, but Iraq is probably the worst. The Bushies complain about Democrats constantly, yet all they can offer is schoolyard taunts. Moreover, they've been implementing a policy in Iraq that undermines the very goals they claim they want (more on this in another post shortly to come). They're the last people who should be criticizing anyone (not that it's ever stopped them before).
Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) responded to Fratto:
I was also tremendously disappointed to read in the paper today that the White House has disparaged Prof. Stiglitz and the work he has done. It is the height of hypocrisy for an administration that has been so secretive, so unwilling to face the truth and the true costs of their policies and this war to disparage the courage and conviction of someone like Professor Stiglitz.
That's much more polite than I'm inclined to be, but re-read Fratto's unconscionable bullshit yet again and come up with your own string of well-deserved profanity for him. The Bush administration has all the maturity of junior high school students, all the integrity of Nixon, all the intelligence of Douglas Feith and all the competence of Brownie. Damn you, Leap Day, for prolonging their stay in office that much longer.
(Cross-posted at The Blue Herald)