The cost of the Iraq war continues to grow. President Bush has just asked Congress for another $196 billion. Neither this request, nor the $500 billion already spent on the war has been paid for. Currently, the U.S. is borrowing and spending at the rate of about $10 billion per month for Iraq and Afghanistan. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could total a whopping $2.4 trillion through the next decade.
The presidents timing couldnt be more telling of his administrations priorities. The war funding request comes just days after the president informed Congress and the country that, even though it cost a fraction of the war funding request, we could not afford to provide access to health care insurance for 10 million low income American children a proposal that also would not increase our deficit or add a single dime to our national debt.
A lesson most of us learn early in life is that nothing comes free. A family, a business, a city, or a state in this country cannot spend money it does not have. Rather, it must find a way to pay for what it wants.
In every other war in our countrys history, Americans have had to sacrifice in order to help pay for the cost of combat. During World War II, Americans were rationed, encouraged to buy savings bonds, and were drafted. President Truman and Congress raised taxes and cut domestic spending to pay for the Korean War. In the Vietnam War (which the war in Iraq is about to eclipse as the most expensive war our country has ever fought), the president and Congress also raised taxes and implemented a draft.
Iraq, however, has been different. The only sacrifice the president has asked of the American people is to keep spending money at the mall while his administration borrows from the Chinese central bank and other foreign purchasers of our debt. These groups and individuals have different strategic agendas than our own. With each purchase they gain greater and greater leverage over our economy. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has warned that countries like China will increase our cost to finance this mushrooming debt and render it increasingly less tenable.