An Iraq War Every Year

I've been trying to articulate to people how much President Obama spends.  I provide the numbers, show that current spending levels are "unprecedented in peacetime," etc. But it does not seem to sink in, at least not for everyone. So let me try a different tack.

Each and every year, President Obama spends more than President Bush did, by the equivalent cost of the entire Iraq War.

OK, now I will prove that statement. The numbers from the table below come from the White House's own Office of Management and Budget (

Dollars (billions)

Inflation-adjusted dollars (billions)

Percent of GDP

2001-08 ave.




2009-12 ave.








That bottom-right figure of 4.7% of GDP translates into $733.3B in today's dollars.

So, depending on how you want to count, Obama spent $733B to $1,602B more than Bush, every year, on average. (In my view, the fairest way to count is by percentage of GDP, the method that is most favorable to Obama.)

How much did the Iraq War cost? The Congressional Budget Office put the total cost of the Iraq War to the US government, 2003-2010, at $709B. (Find the CBO document here: . See Box 1-3 of that document.)

So there you have it: $709B (the total cost of the Iraq War through 2010) is less than $733B (the amount Obama spent, each year of his first term, more than Bush did each year of his two terms).

Is my statement fact-check-proof? It's just possible I'll be "fact-checked" again. After all, even though the "combat mission" in Iraq ended in August 2010, the last troops were not pulled out until December 2011. And maybe inflation is not quite perfectly accounted for. Politifact put the inflation-adjusted cost at $756B, and to account for all costs through 2012, another $53B or so. That might bring the cost of the entire Iraq War to about $810B.

OK, $810B is still less than $980B, the average difference of Obama's spending over Bush's spending, adjusted for inflation. By that measure, I'm still fact-check proof, by a wide margin.

If we go by the percent of GDP, it's a close call. If we want to play it safe for the fact-checkers, we might have to say that the difference between Obama's and Bush's spending was merely the cost of the Iraq "Combat Mission," or merely the total cost of the Iraq War through Bush's presidency. If that makes fact-checkers feel better, I could do that. But for now, I stand by my statement above.

Randall Hoven can be followed on Twitter.