Are we getting our money’s worth?

I believe the answer is…..No.  Imagine the healthcare, education and economic development programs that money could be used for. 

The boost in troop levels in Iraq has increased the cost of war there and in Afghanistan to $12 billion a month, and the total for Iraq alone is nearing a half-trillion dollars, congressional analysts say.

All told, Congress has appropriated $610 billion in war-related money since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror assaults, roughly the same as the war in Vietnam. Iraq alone has cost $450 billion.

The figures come from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, which provides research and analysis to lawmakers.

For the 2007 budget year, CRS says, the $166 billion appropriated to the Pentagon represents a 40 percent increase over 2006.

The Vietnam War, after accounting for inflation, cost taxpayers $650 billion, according to separate CRS estimates.

The $12 billion a month “burn rate” includes $10 billion for Iraq and almost $2 billion for Afghanistan, plus other minor costs. That’s higher than Pentagon estimates earlier this year of $10 billion a month for both operations. Two years ago, the average monthly cost was about $8 billion.

Among the reasons for the higher costs is the cost of repairing and replacing equipment worn out in harsh conditions or destroyed in combat.

But the estimates call into question the Pentagon’s estimate that the increase in troop strength and intensifying pace of operations in Baghdad and Anbar province would cost only $5.6 billion through the end of September.