Blogs > Liberty and Power > What Will Obama's War Cost Every American Taxpayer?

Dec 8, 2009 4:19 pm

What Will Obama's War Cost Every American Taxpayer?

Laurent Belsie in the Christian Science Monitor asks "How much will the troop escalation in Afghanistan cost you?"

President Obama said Tuesday night it would cost $30 billion this fiscal year — or about $1 million per soldier — to send 30,000 additional troops there. That’s a low estimate, budget experts say, but let’s run with it for the moment. An extra $30 billion in Afghanistan means that in 2010 alone, US military spending in Afghanistan will equal nearly half of total spending on the war since 2001, according to Travis Sharp, military policy analyst with the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington. The troop increase will cost $2.5 billion per month, $82 million per day, $3.4 million per hour, $57,000 per minute, and $951 per second. It’s a direct tax on Americans: about $195 for each taxpayer next year. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Full article below the jump. Note: the organization Veterans for Common Sense expands on the continuing cost of disability payments and healthcare for veterans wounded, injured, or ill due to their military deployment to the Afghan War. VCS states, "as of June 2009, VA treated 480,000 Iraq and Afghanistan War veteran patients...Exacerbating the situation is the fact that about 40 percent of our forces have deployed twice or more to war, further increasing the risk of depression, PTSD, and suicide. Yet both VA and the military lack the urgently needed mental healthcare providers to provide exams and treatment for our service members and veterans." Click on [Read the rest...] to continue reading CSM article.

“The total cost of [the escalation in] Afghanistan will be at least twice the cost and perhaps three times the cost of the estimate, says Linda Bilmes, a budget and public-finance expert at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. When she counts replacement of worn-out military equipment, disability payments to soldiers, Veterans Administration medical care, and the interest charges to finance the war, the tab doubles. When she adds indirect costs to the economy — say, the lost wages of a parent who quits his job to care for a son wounded in combat — it triples.

“We know that those are a decades-long costs,” says professor Bilmes. “The next question is: How do we budget for it? And how do we pay for it?”

A war tax, war bonds, and budget cuts have all been proposed, although it looks as though the administration will just keep on borrowing. In whatever form it comes, the real costs for the individual taxpayer could peak anywhere from $400 to $600 annually for the next couple of years and then begin to tail off — assuming all goes well in Afghanistan.

For more commentary, visit

comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:

Mark Brady - 12/8/2009

Wendy, you conclude your post with the words "assuming all goes well in Afghanistan." What exactly does it mean for "all [to go] well in Afghanistan"?