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KAI RYSSDAL: The Congressional Budget Office has released its latest estimates for the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Best guess is that by the time it’s all said and done, the tab could run as high as $2.4 trillion — Marketplace’s Steve Henn reports.
Steve Henn: Just a few months ago, the Congressional Budget Office estimated the total cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would be $1.6 trillion. But that old estimate left out one big piece of the puzzle: interest.
Steve Kosiak, a defense analyst at the non-partisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments:
Steve Kosiak: I think it’s fair to say that we have pretty much financed this war on the national credit card.
Today the CBO said over the next 10 years, Americans could pay up to $705 billion in interest payments to finance the wars. But White House officials, who initially estimated that the war in Iraq would cost $50 to $60 billion, dismissed the report as, quote, “a ton of speculation.”
All sides agree the future costs of the war are difficult to predict. Lawrence Korb is a defense analyst at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank:
Lawrence Korb: If anything, it is a little bit conservative.
But Korb and Kosiak says one thing is clear: Keeping troops in the region is getting much more expensive as the military struggles to replace worn-out equipment.
The surge in Iraq increased troops strength about 10 percent since 2006, but:
Kosiak: The number of troops in Iraq hasn’t varied all that much since 2003. And yet, the amount of funding provided has increased from roughly an average of about $100 billion a year in 2004, ’05 and ’06 a year to close to $200 billion.
Which means next year, the United States will spend almost $1 million for each soldier, Marine or airman deployed in the region.
In Washington, I’m Steve Henn for Marketplace.
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