Panetta: Borrowing To Finance Iraq War Was A ‘Mistake’

The last U.S. military vehicle out of Iraq

Testifying on Capitol Hill today, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that financing the Iraq war with borrowed cash — and thereby raising the national deficit — was a “mistake.” The war came at a huge cost to the U.S. “We ran that war on a credit card,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who asked Panetta about using borrowed money to finance wars. Panetta responded:

If we repeated the mistake of not paying for the war that we decide to engage in, the result would be that you would simply add more to the deficit and the debt of this country for the future. You just put the burden on our kids for the future…

It’s important that we recognize the costs that are involved, and that frankly all of us bear the responsibility to bear those costs if we’re willing to engage in war.

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According to U.S. News and World Report, the Congressional Budget office put the cost of war at $800 billion (that’s what the Center for American Progress’s Iraq War Ledger said, too). But President Obama has said the war, which he opposed and finally ended, costed $1 trillion. Those costs are likely to rise yet — by 2014, the post-9/11 combat veteran cohort will be bigger than the Vietnam veteran cohort, and a recent report said maintaining veterans benefits will soon cost more than maintaining active duty military forces.