Dude, where's our $24 billion?

NPP Pressroom

The Huffington Post
David Sirota

In dollar figures, how much has the Iraq War cost the 8-state Intermountain American West? About $24 billion, when you add up the numbers from a new report by the nonpartisan National Priorities Project that is being released locally in Colorado today by the Colorado Progressive Coalition. Let's put that $24 billion number into context. Since the war started, that's about $452 million a month, or $14.5 million a day sapped out of this 8-state region. Or, if you like your numbers more granular, it's about $604,166 an hour every hour since the war started, or about $10,000 every single minute since the war started, or about $166 every second since the war started - again, just from these 8 Mountain West states. Think of it in per capita terms. There are about 6.7 million individual households in the 8-state Intermountain West. So, every household here has coughed up about $3,600 for the war. That's about $900 a year, or $67 a month taken by the Bush administration from every household in the region and thrown into Iraq. Earlier this year when the Progressive States Network headed up the national state legislative push for resolutions against President Bush's Iraq escalation, the Denver Post published a solid piece on exactly what these enormous costs really mean for states out here. Where is all the money going? Take a good look at Matt Taibbi's new investigative report for Rolling Stone to find out. It includes details of how the Bush administration flew $12 billion - or 360 tons - of cold, hard cash into Iraq and started doling it out to Republican cronies. $8 billion of that stash simply vanished - totally unaccounted for. Think of that again back in per capita terms. That's like taking $1,200 of the $3,600 Iraq surcharge that every household in the Intermountain West is sending to Iraq, and setting it on fire. But here's the worst part of all. When Law-and-Order Democrats in Congress proposed to establish a Harry Truman-style bipartisan commission to investigate war profiteering, they were voted down by Republicans. When these same Law-and-Order Democrats proposed legislation to increase penalties and jail sentences for those convicted of war profiteering crimes, Republicans not only voted it down, but Vice President Dick Cheney himself appeared on the floor of the Senate to curse off bill sponsor Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT). Cheney may originally be from out here in the West, but he still draws deferred salary from and still owns stock options in Halliburton - so his tirade wasn't a shock: He had his company to protect. By the time you've finished this post, roughly another $10,000 has left the Rocky Mountain West's economy and headed over to Iraq. And thanks to Republicans who have stopped a crackdown on war profiteers and stymied a bipartisan investigation into the abuses, it's a safe bet that $10,000 is being happily deposited into one of the swelling offshore bank accounts of a Bush-connected private contractor - with little to no actual work being done in exchange.