News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Thursday, September 25, 2008

How much is $700 billion?

The details of the massive aid package for troubled financial institutions proposed by the Bush administration would make the eyes of even the most grizzled Wall Street analyst glaze over. But beyond the minutiae about “credit-default” swaps and other arbitrage esoterica is the bluntly simple size of the bill the taxpayers will foot in this bailout: $700 billion.

How much is $700 billion?

The cost of the war in Iraq is widely understood as colossal. According to adjusted Department of Defense figures, each month of the Iraq conflict has cost U.S. taxpayers $10.3 billion. Now imagine that same monthly cost of $10.3 billion borne for another five and a half years and you will have some idea of how much more of a burden we are adding to our national debt.

And here's something even more sobering: many experts predict $700 billion is just the first installment.

The Bush administration pushed this country into a costly misadventure in Iraq. We should think hard about the full implications of this bailout before we let ourselves be led into another rash decision we will later regret.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez

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