One of the many scandals of the Iraq War has been the way in which its real budgetary cost has been obscured from the American people. Not only were we told boldfaced lies before the invasion, but ever since the invasion happened the White House has for years not only refused to budget for the war in advance, but requested supplemental appropriations that clearly weren’t covering the actual cost. In particular, we’ve seen a lot of what you might call war-related capital depreciation as military equipment breaks at a much higher rate during an intense operation. Nevertheless, through almost four years of combat this was never really accounted for. And now the bill’s coming due in the 2008 Pentagon budget request.
At this point, obviously, one can hardly avoid spending the money. The equipment has already been damaged, so it may as well get repaired. We’re not, however, talking about a small sum of money. This is $37.6 billion, and had this slice of expense been counted up front you would have seen less support at the margin for incurring it in the first place. The other giant source of hidden cost — which has remained hidden thus far — is the expense of long-term care for all the wounded soldiers.