Remember when Bush economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey raised a racket in Washington and contributed to his own ouster from office by daring to suggest to the Wall Street Journal in Sept. 2002 that the Iraq war would cost up to $200 billion? Time magazine's John Dickerson said at the time that Lindsey's public estimate "contributed to the criticism that he has made too many on-the-record gaffes." After Lindsey was dismissed, a White House source told the Washington Post that Lindsey's Iraq comments proved "Larry just didn't get it." The Pentagon had put the cost of war at more like $60 billion.
Now, it's quite clear that if Larry didn't "get it," it was because he underestimated the war's bill. The Iraq war has now cost us $119 billion. We'll shell out $170 billion by the end of next year. Prominent analysts say the war, depending on how much military engagement is involved, will cost $300-500 billion over several years.
What else might this money buy? $100 million gets 2,500 airport security screeners. $500 million puts 69,400 children in Head Start. $1 billion would get 160,000 low-income families federal rent subsidies.