The economic cost of the Iraq War is far greater than most people imagine, with more than $1 trillion spent. One trillion dollars equals $720 million spent each day, or $500,000 per minute.
These numbers come from an investigation conducted by the American Friends Service Committee. Our figures are based on the research of Linda Bilmes (Kennedy School of Government professor and Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Peace Prize winning economist).
Bilmes and Stiglitz took the war funding supplemental bills that Congress has passed every six months + estimates for caring for the wounded + 30% of the rise in the Defense Department budget since the war began + replacement of military equipment + increased budget for recruitment + interest on the war debt.
After 4 years of war that came to a little over $1 trillion or $720 million per day. That is about 2.6 times the amount approved through the supplemental. Or put another way, the supplemental is only 40% of what the war really is costing or will cost.
As of January 1, 2008 we figured that the cost of war was $1.256 trillion. That keeps with our $720 million/day. The major costs are the care for the wounded and the interest on the debt. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that at the end of 2006 the interest on the war debt alone was $178 billion.
For the economists in the crowd, another way of talking about it is TCO or Total Cost of Ownership of the Iraq War and occupation. For example, when you purchase a computer, you do not just consider the purchase price (supplemental) but all of the training, software, repairs necessary to use it. The total cost of ownership of the Iraq War is over two and a half times the “purchase price.”
A more detailed accounting of the research is on our web page, as is a short video that looks at how these funds could be better spent.
Facts and Figures From the Cost of War Project
One Day = $720 Million (2-minute Video)