- Days left

Where has all your money gone? To a little place called Iraq...

×

Recently, I came across an interesting figure. Congressional analysts estimate that the United States is currently spending $12 billion a month on its overseas wars. According to Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes, co-authors of The Three Trillion Dollar War, an analysis of the U.S. interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the conflicts and subsequent occupations will end up costing the United States between $1.7 and $2.7 trillion dollars by 2017.

Frankly, I can't even imagine that much money. To be honest, I can't even wrap my mind around the buying power of $12 billion! Still, as we're nearing tax time, and as we're debating the cost of our upcoming "Economic Stimulus Package," I started to think about how much money $12 billion is. For research, I decided to check out a few other government programs to compare the relative cost of this war.

Of course, everybody's favorite foil for the military is education, so I decided to start there. While federal funding for education covers only 12% of the total cost, it is still quite significant. According to the Department of Education, Federal educational spending for school year 2007-2008 is $68.6 billion, or just over 46% of the yearly cost of the wars. To give another comparison, in 2007, the United States total spending on highways was $39.6 billion, or roughly 27.5% of the money spent on the two wars in the same period.

To give you an idea of how much money this war is siphoning out of your pocket, keep in mind that our gargantuan economic stimulus package is running $168 billion, $110 billion of which is going to individuals and families. Even if considering the overall cost, this major package is only $24 billion more than America is going to spend on the wars in 2008. Considering the actual part that's going to real people, the economic stimulus package is actually $34 billion less than the cost of the current wars.

In 2003, not long after the Iraq war began, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stated that "When it comes to [Iraq's] reconstruction, before we turn to the American taxpayer, we will turn first to the resources of the Iraqi government." His statements were amplified by his Deputy Defense Secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, who said, "The oil revenues of [Iraq] could bring between $50 and $100 billion dollars over the course of the next two or three years [...] we are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon."

Wolfowitz was surprisingly prescient. In fact, Iraq is currently exporting over 1.9 million barrels of oil per day. In 2007, that generated $41 billion, and it has already generated $9.4 billion this year. However, this money is not going to pay for Iraq's reconstruction; instead, it appears to be sitting in non-Iraqi banks. Recently, Senators Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John Warner (R-Va.) asked the Government Accountability Office to review Iraqi oil revenues and reconstruction funding to determine why such a large percentage of these costs are currently being shouldered by American taxpayers.

Seems like a pretty good question.


Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Managing your Portfolio

Keeping your portfolio and financial life fit!

View Course »

Basics Of The Stock Market

Stock Market 101 - everything you need to know but were afraid to ask!

View Course »

TurboTax Articles

Will Medicare/Medicaid be Impacted by ACA?

The Affordable Care Act put in place significant tax-related programs that impact Medicare and Medicaid, such as increased Medicare taxes on earned and unearned income for high-wage earners, and Medicaid changes that increase the number of insured individuals. Establishing whether you are affected by the ACA-imposed taxes, or are eligible for certain health programs that fall under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is determined by filing your income tax.

8 Things You Think Are Tax Deductible That Aren't

There?s a fine line between looking to save money on your taxes and taking deductions that will raise eyebrows at the Internal Revenue Service. Some taxpayers are tripped up by expenses that they assume are tax deductions, but don?t qualify under IRS guidelines. Here are a dozen items that can lead to unpleasant surprises in case of an audit.

Essential Tax Forms for the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also referred to as Obamacare, affects how millions of Americans will prepare their taxes in the new year. The law now includes penalties for all who haven?t obtained health insurance -- and those penalties are expected to be paid at tax time. The ACA also provides tax credits to help people pay for insurance, and you can claim those credits when you file your taxes. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has introduced a number of tax forms to accommodate the ACA.

How to Determine if You Have Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC)

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, requires most Americans to have health insurance that meets a government standard known as "minimum essential coverage," or MEC. Whether your insurance qualifies as MEC depends not on the plan itself, but on how you obtained your coverage.

What are 1095 Tax Forms for Health Care?

In 2014 the Affordable Health Care Act, also known as Obamacare, introduced three new tax forms relevant to individuals, employers and health insurance providers. They are forms 1095-A, 1095-B and 1095-C. These forms help determine if you need to comply with the new shared responsibility payment, the fee you might have to pay if you don't have health insurance. For individuals who bought insurance through the health care marketplace, this information will help to determine whether you are able to receive an additional premium tax credit or have to pay some back.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum