A Little More Perspective

Nearly five years ago, I wrote:

[T]he rebuilding of Iraq now looks like it’s going to be at least 20% more expensive than it was to put a man on the moon. One can’t help but wonder if the debate over the war would have been different if the Administration had shared with us beforehand that we were committing ourselves to a project bigger than the moon landings.

Oh, for the innocent days when 20% more than the moon landings sounded like a lot!

The Congressional Budget Office released a report today (PDF) that includes totals for how much we’ve spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan year by year:

Appropriations specifically designated for those activities, which averaged about $93 billion a year from 2003 through 2005, rose to $120 billion in 2006 and $171 billion in 2007. The Administration has requested $193 billion for war-related purposes in 2008, of which $88 billion has been appropriated thus far.

So if you assume that the Administration will get the money it wants this year, that’s a total of $763 billion spent since the war began.

In my five-years-old post, I calculated that the cost of the Apollo Program, adjusted into 2002 dollars, came to $124 billion. For the entire program.

So that means we’ve now spent enough on the war to have paid for six Apollo Programs. And there’s no end in sight.

For decades now, people have used the moon landings as a kind of shorthand for a huge, bold, damn-the-torpedoes, money-is-no-object government program. But when it comes to profligate spending, George W. Bush has set a whole new standard.



January 30, 2008
2:04 pm

All I care about is getting my $500 check.