Bush: The Six Trillion Dollar Man

by Jim Longworth

In September of last year I wrote about the staggering loss of life in the Iraq war.

My column included data from a report by Johns Hopkins University, in conjunction with an independent team of epidemiologists (from the US and Iraq) which estimated that more than 655,000 innocent Iraqi men, women and children had died since the Bush invasion of March 2003. Other studies have now put that death toll at well over 700,000. Add to that the 4,000 US soldiers killed and you have reason enough to want our troops withdrawn immediately.

But in addition to the human cost of war, it has become increasingly clear that our nation has also suffered a tremendous financial loss as well. In fact, we are losing twice by continuing to fund Bush’s senseless crusade. First, we wouldn’t have sustained loss of life overseas had we not financed the war effort. And second, the money we’ve spent in Iraq could have been used to actually improve quality of life here at home.

For example, more than 40 million Americans can’t afford healthcare insurance, and those who can are facing annual increases in premiums of as much as 25 percent.

Most Republican politicians say that the way to fix the problem is to have everyone eat healthy, exercise and put some money away for a rainy day. These idiots are steadfast in saying that we can’t afford to pay for universal healthcare for everyone.

Well they’re right. So long as we’re wasting money on an illegal war, we can’t pay for everyone’s coverage.

The Pentagon says we are spending $12 billion per month on the war in Iraq. But according to a new book, The Three Trillion Dollar War by Nobel Prize-winner Joseph Stiglitz, those figures don’t accurately reflect the true costs involved. If you factor in replacement of military equipment and long-term care for wounded soldiers, Stiglitz says we’ve already spent about $3 trillion in Iraq.

I’m no economics expert, but let’s do some simple math. The last census reported 280 million people living in the US. There are roughly 87 million families with an average of about 3.2 persons per household. Let’s say an average family of four now pays about $8,000 in health insurance premiums each year. The cost for our government to underwrite health insurance for everyone would be less than $1 trillion per year, and that’s assuming our new president would do nothing to offer us more choices and more affordable coverage than what we’ve been used to (the two Democratic candidates say they would).

But Stiglitz goes on to predict that a continuation of the war, along with future borrowing and long-term care for vets means that Bush’s war could cost us at least $6 trillion. By pulling out of Iraq and by formulating some practical health insurance options, it is clear to see that we do indeed have the money to pay for universal health care.

And here’s something else to think about: Just prior to the invasion, Bush and his minions predicted that the war and associated reconstruction costs could be recouped from Iraqi oil revenues. Guess how that’s working out? Our bonehead invasion disrupted oil production that had been at least 1 million barrels per day under Saddam. Even more telling, when Bush took office the price of crude was under $30 per barrel. Today it is over $100 per barrel, and we’ll soon be paying $4 per gallon at the pump. The only time gas prices fell significantly was just prior to the 2004 election. Bob Woodward wrote that Bush made a deal with his buddy, Saudi ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan, to hold down costs until after the election, and I see no reason to doubt that report.

And so here we are living in the land of the free, and we can’t afford to drive our cars or pay for our health insurance. Yet the war machine rages on and both political parties keep funding it with no end in sight.

It’s enough to make you sick. But who can afford that?