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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Brother, Can You Spare $4.038 Trillion? 

We have latterly been reading our distinguished colleague Atrios on the subject of "Big Shitpile," his collective term for the vast array of financial institutions that have belatedly come to question the wisdom of doling out billions of dollars in loans to unqualified borrowers who have no means, and sometimes no intention, of repaying them. The stories always put us in mind of another big spender, one whom we had pegged as a bad credit risk from the git-go:
War funding, which averaged about $93 billion a year from 2003 through 2005, rose to $120 billion in 2006 and $171 billion in 2007. President George W. Bush has asked for $193 billion in 2008, the nonpartisan [Congressional Budget Office] wrote.

“It keeps going up, up and away,” Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said of the money spent in Iraq since U.S. troops invaded in 2003.

“We’re seeing the war costs continue to spiral upward. It is the additional troops plus additional costs per troop plus the over-reliance on private contractors, which also explodes the costs,” said Conrad, who opposed the war.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S., Congress has written checks for $691 billion to pay for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and such related activities as Iraq reconstruction, the CBO said. There are about 158,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and 27,000 in Afghanistan . . . .

All of the Iraq and Afghanistan war money — about $11 billion a month — is effectively being put on a government credit card at a time when U.S. government debt has skyrocketed to more than $9 trillion, up from about $5.6 trillion when Bush took office in January 2001.

Bush has opposed paying the cost of waging war in Iraq and Afghanistan with tax increases or other specific offsets.

That means that nearly every penny spent gets added to the U.S. debt.
If you are among those overly cautious souls who insist on reading the fine print before they sign on the dotted line, you are perhaps already curious about the ultimate cost of servicing our war debt. According to the CBO's estimate, the interest payments alone will run to roughly $2.7 trillion over the next decade.

But wait -- there's more! From the February Harper's Index:
Projected total cost of medical care for U.S. veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars: $500,000,000,000

(Source: Linda Bilmes, Harvard University/U.S. Department of Defense)

By our tally -- if both wars and all associated spending were to end immediately on Dec. 31, 2008, which we needn't tell you they won't -- the total outlay for All of the Above* would come to just over four trillion dollars (four trillion eighty-four billion, if you want to be anal about it). How did Mr. Bush and his posse manage to spring that kind of folding cabbage loose from a lender as notoriously tight-fisted* as the American taxpayer?

Quite simply. By putting 935 lies on their application!
President George W. Bush and seven of his administration's top officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, made at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Nearly five years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, an exhaustive examination of the record shows that the statements were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.
As long as we have the imperial abacus in hand, let's attempt one more calculation. If we divide $4.038 trillion, the absolute minimum that will have been squandered on Mr. Bush's fraudulent war before it ends, by the 935 lies required to sell it to the public, we discover that the Con Artist-in-Chief successfully managed to extract from the pocketbooks of Americans a staggering total of . . . wait . . . carry the three . . . $4,367,914,438.50 per lie.

Call him what you like, but don't call him unambitious.

* -- For purposes of this calculation, we estimate the monetary value of a human life at $0.00 (as do our leaders).
** -- Here we are, of course, speaking ironically.

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