Sen. Vincent J. Fumo

District Office

1208 Tasker Street
Phila, PA 19148

Harrisburg Office

545 Main Capitol
Hbg, PA 17120



Remarks on the Floor of the Senate, June 12, 2006

Madam President,


In many different ways, we as a nation are paying a huge price for the invasion and occupation of Iraq.


Of course, there is the horrible cost in lives, both American and Iraqi. There is the cost of our weakened national security. There is the price we pay for alienating allies who might be helpful in the war on terror, and the price we are paying in the loss of respect around the world as consequences of Abu Graib and Haditha.


Today I would like to speak about another type of cost – the familiar one of dollars and cents – and I would like to try to put that in some perspective.


As we stand here today in June of 2006, the monetary cost of this war so far is approaching at least $288 billion. By the end of September, it will hit a minimum of $315 billion. If it turns out to be true, as George W. Bush said several months ago, that it will be up to the next president to bring our troops home from his misguided war, then the expenditures will most likely hit $1 trillion sometime during the next administration.


Those figures are according to the National Priories Project, and they include only incremental costs due solely to the war. For example, they did not include the regular military pay of soldiers in Iraq, because they would be collecting those paychecks anyway. It only includes combat pay. Other categories of spending are treated the same way. So these are very conservative figures. 

Many other costs are hidden, but are sure to emerge in the future. For example, the soldiers wounded in this war will have their enormous health care bills paid for by the taxpayers. The armed services are being stressed in terms of manpower and equipment, and there will be future costs to regain the military strength that we are sacrificing in Iraq.  And because George Bush insists on fighting a war while still delivering tax cuts to the rich, the Iraq War contributes mightily to the deficit, and taxpayers will be paying interest to cover that debt.

The real cost, according to two budget experts who have studied it closely, will reach at least $2 trillion in the long run. Harvard budget expert Linda Bilmes and Columbia University Professor and Nobel Laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz calculated the true cost impact on our economy of those, and other, factors. 

But for now, I want to return to just the conservatively stated official cost of the war to date, that $288 billion that we have already spent. Here are a few examples of things we could have paid for instead. 

We could have paid for more than 38 million children to attend a year of Head Start. 

We could have provided health insurance for 172 million children for one year. 

We could have paid almost 5 million public school teachers for one year. 

We could have provided about 14 million students with four-year scholarships at public universities. 

We could have fully funded global anti-hunger efforts for the next 11 years. 

We could have fully funded world-wide AIDS programs for the next 28 years

We could have ensured that every child in the world was given basic immunizations for the next 95 years. 

And here is one that will shock you, in light of the fact that fixing Social Security was supposedly the top priority of Bush’s second term agenda. Of course we all know that he wasn’t really trying to fix Social Security, he was actually trying to dismantle it by privatizing it, but let’s take his statement at face value for a moment and pretend that he really was trying to solve the problem. Well, according to Linda Bilmes, the Harvard economist that I mentioned earlier, with the money we are spending on Iraq, we could have fixed Social Security for the next 75 years. By then, we will be well past the population surge of the Baby Boomers, which is the main root right now of Social Security’s financial trouble.

As you know, we are in our budget season here in Pennsylvania, so I thought it might also be a good time to look at what the Iraq war is costing our state if we apportion the costs. From the time of the invasion in May 2003 through the end of the last fiscal year, it cost Pennsylvanians $8.6 billion.  In this fiscal year, it will cost us another $4 billion. So the price tag for our state through three years of this war is $12.6 billion.

As disturbing as the price tag of this war is, it is all the worse because of who is paying, and who is not paying. In other times of war, we had presidents who leveled with the American people, and told them that winning a war was going to require sacrifice from everyone, no matter what your station in society.


But not this administration.  No, the only people required to sacrifice for this war are the men and women in uniform, who are bearing the entire burden, and our children and grandchildren, who will have to pay off the deficit.


Bush’s pals, his political base whom he famously describes in the movie Fahrenheit 911 as “the haves and the have mores,” are not being asked to pay anything.  Just the opposite. The rich keep getting tax cut after tax cut, while the cost of this war runs the national debt higher and higher.


And what about veterans of this war and other wars who face medical problems. As usual, Bush talks a good game about supporting our troops, but he does not back it up with money. Each year of his presidency, his budget requests have not fully funded Veterans Administration health care, and Congress has not appropriated enough money to meet the need. As a consequence, the VA had to cut back its services, and is now denying care to non-disabled veterans with incomes above $25,000. But the rich still keep their tax breaks.


While I have focused today on the financial costs of this war, lest we forget, there is always the tragic human cost. I would like to pay tribute now to two Pennsylvanians who died in combat in Iraq.


Corporal Brandon M. Hardy, 25, of Cochranville, Pa. was killed April 28 while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Al Anbar province. He was assigned to the 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.


Staff Sergeant David M. Veverka, 25, of Jamestown, Pa. died in Ad Diwaniyah, on May 6, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his cargo truck during combat operations. He was assigned to the Army National Guard's 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry.


They are among the now 2,492 Americans killed in Iraq.


Thank you, Madam President.

Copyright 2000 Sen. Vincent J. Fumo