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Afghan Escalation Would Make One-Year Pentagon Budget Almost As Big as Entire 10-Year Health Bill

By       Message David Sirota     Permalink
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In pitting the 10-year cost of Democrats' health care bill against the 10-year projected cost of the bloated Pentagon budget, my newspaper column last week made a simple comparison rarely ever made in politics today - a comparison that might provide citizens with much needed context, but a comparison that is ignored.

Is the comparison's omission deliberate? It's hard to say, but when you read this typical New York Times piece, it's hard to argue that it isn't being irresponsibly ignored:

While President Obama's decision about sending more troops to Afghanistan is primarily a military one, it also has substantial budget implications that are adding pressure to limit the commitment, senior administration officials say...

Even if fewer troops are sent, or their mission is modified, the rough formula used by the White House, of about $1 million per soldier a year, appears almost constant.

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So even if Mr. Obama opts for a lower troop commitment, Afghanistan's new costs could wash out the projected $26 billion expected to be saved in 2010 from withdrawing troops from Iraq. And the overall military budget could rise to as much as $734 billion, or 10 percent more than the peak of $667 billion under the Bush administration.

Kudos, of course, to the Times for even reporting on the unfathomably large costs of intensifying militarism and adventurism. But as you'll see in the story, there's no attempt to put the costs into any context - specifically, there's no mention that an escalation in Afghanistan would mean outlays for the one-year Pentagon budget is approaching the total outlays of the entire 10-year health care bill.

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David Sirota is a full-time political journalist, best-selling author and nationally syndicated newspaper columnist living in Denver, Colorado. He blogs for Working Assets and the Denver Post's PoliticsWest website. He is a Senior Editor at In These Times magazine, which in 2006 received the Utne Independent Press Award for political coverage. His 2006 book, Hostile Takeover, was a New York Times bestseller, and is now out in paperback. He has been a guest on, among others, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and NPR. His writing, which draws on his (more...)
 

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