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The War In Afghanistan: How Much Are You Paying?

by Amanda Terkel

WASHINGTON -- As Americans breathe a sigh of relief over finally filing the returns on what they owe (or are owed from) Uncle Sam this Tax Day, the progressive group Rethink Afghanistan wants them to consider how much of their money is funding the war in Afghanistan, now in its 10th year.

The group, a project of the Brave New Foundation, has created a Cost of War calculator, allowing Americans to figure out how much of their tax dollars are going toward the war, based on their income and filing status.

For example, a single person making $40,000 in 2010 essentially paid $1,694 for the war. A married couple filing jointly and earning a combined $100,000 has $4,757 of their tax dollars going toward the effort.

The United States is spending more than $100 billion a year in Afghanistan, amounting to about $2 billion a week.

The Defense Department received $513 billion in funding in the FY 2011 continuing resolution, approximately $5 billion above last year's level. Another $158 billion is provided for overseas contingency operations (emergency funding). The war in Afghanistan will receive $108 billion of that funding, while the war in Iraq will receive $50 billion.

Last week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers, along with groups like the Liberty Coalition and Sojourners, participated in an event hosted by Rethink Afghanistan on Capitol Hill highlighting the cost of war.

"We can't pay our bills here, yet we're spending $8 billion a month in Afghanistan," Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), one of the event's panelists, recently told The New York Times. "I don't know what our country is trying to accomplish. History says Afghanistan will never be a nation. It will be a country of tribes. We're wearing out the troops and spending money we don't have."

In a CNN interview last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he's not "confident" that the war in Afghanistan will be successful, remarking, "[T]he American people have, and rightfully so, a very short attention span. We cannot continue to keep dumping this money. ... Think of what that would do for renewable energy for this country."

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