Iraq war could cost taxpayers $2.7 trillion

The Iraq war has already cost taxpayers $646 billion. That's only accounting for five years, and, with the conflict expected to drag on for another five years, the figure is expected to more than quadruple to $2.7 trillion, according to Congressional testimony.

The Bush Administration, which was invited to give testimony, declined to participate.

The Pentagon has previously said that the war costs approximately $9.5 billion a month, but some economists say the figure is closer to $25 billion a month when long-term health care for veterans and interest are factored in.

Health care: In testimony before the committee, Dr. Christine Eibner, an Associate Economist with research firm RAND, said advances in armor technology have kept alive many soldiers who would have been killed in prior wars. But that has added to post-war health care costs for veterans, especially for "unseen" wounds like post traumatic stress disorder, major depression and traumatic brain injury. Health care costs for the 1.6 million service members currently in Iraq and Afghanistan could range from $4 billion to $6.2 billion, according to Eibner.

Unemployment: Furthermore, many veterans who recently completed their service are coming back to a difficult job and housing market. Among veterans who completed their service within the last 1 to 3 years, 18% were unemployed, and 25% earned less than $21,840 a year, according to a recent report commissioned by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Foreclosure: Many soldiers who come home from active duty are also finding difficulty keeping their homes.

[Excerpt of an article by David Goldman, CNNMoney]

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