Democrats say hidden costs double war price

WASHINGTON Tue Nov 13, 2007 6:39am GMT

A U.S. soldier with 2nd Platoon, G Company, 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment takes position during a patrol in the Muhalla 832 Mechanik neighbourhood in Baghdad November 12, 2007. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

A U.S. soldier with 2nd Platoon, G Company, 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment takes position during a patrol in the Muhalla 832 Mechanik neighbourhood in Baghdad November 12, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Stefano Rellandini

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A new study by congressional Democrats says "hidden costs" have driven the price of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to about $1.5 trillion (726.4 billion pounds), The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

That figure is nearly double the $804 billion the White House has spent or requested, according to the report by the Democratic staff of Congress's Joint Economic Committee, which examines the hidden costs of the wars, the Post said.

According to the panel, the hidden costs include higher oil prices, the expense of treating wounded veterans and interest payments on money borrowed to pay for the wars, the newspaper said.

The report was expected to be presented on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

A 21-page draft obtained by the newspaper estimates that the wars have cost the average U.S. family of four more than $20,000, the Post said.

The study concludes that the cost to the average family could more than double, to $46,300, over the next decade, with estimated economic costs to the United States reaching $3.5 trillion if the conflicts continue at their current pace, the Post said.

The Post said the report estimated that war injuries could add more than $30 billion in future disability and medical care costs, including billions in lost earnings for veterans who cannot work because of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Members of the panel's Republican staff could not be reached for comment, the Post said.

The newspaper cited war funding experts as saying that some of the numbers in the report should be met with scepticism.

The experts said it is difficult to calculate the precise impact of the Iraq war on global oil prices. They also said it was speculative to estimate how much the war will cost over time because situations change daily on the battlefield, the Post reported.

(Reporting by JoAnne Allen; editing by Patricia Zengerle)

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