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Guns or Bridges?

<p>U.S. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D) argues that the war in Iraq is diverting billions of dollars that are badly needed to shore up America's crumbling infrastructure.</p>
December 26, 2007, 1pm PST | Michael Dudley
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The baseline budget numbers alone are mind-numbing: more than $490 billion in federal spending on the Iraq war so far -- including interest on the war debt. That's nearly 10 times the $50 billion the Bush administration originally estimated the war would cost. Yet President Bush has asked Congress to appropriate an additional $157 billion to the war just for next year.

The untold story -- one every American needs to hear -- is that the costs of this war go beyond these budget numbers. The Congressional Joint Economic Committee has determined that if the President's 2008 funding request is approved, the full economic cost of the war -- including the economic impact of deficit financing, the future care of our wounded veterans, and disruption in oil markets -- will total $1.3 trillion just by the end of 2008.

The numbers may feel abstract, but the costs are real. The burden of war debt handed down to our children is real. The lost opportunities to invest here at home in jobs, productivity, roads, health care and education are real. And, the lives lost are real; of course, it's impossible to put a price tag on human life, the ultimate cost that too many families have had to pay.

This year alone, the President has asked Congress to spend more on the Iraq war than the nation does annually on the entire American road and highway system. At a time when our levees and bridges are crumbling, we cannot afford to stop investing in our infrastructure.

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Published on Saturday, December 22, 2007 in Albany Times-Union
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