Last week, the Maine Democratic party put out a press release alleging a total Iraq war cost to Maine taxpayers of $1.4 billion.
It's a number I hadn't seen before. And I'm always suspicious about statistics that purport to break down government costs, especially when they come from partisan sources: Crunching budget numbers requires making assumptions, and so there's ample opportunity for manipulation.
But after looking into how the release's figure was calculated, I have to say it seems solid: The National Priorities Project arrived at it by tallying up Maine's actual share of tax dollars sent to the federal government (including income tax, gift tax, estate tax, etc.) and multiplying that share by the amount of money already allocated for Iraq war spending.
So the $1.4 billion number doesn't include the fiscal 2008 funding request, or any future allocations. It doesn't include Afghanistan spending, the Veterans Affairs budget, or any other add-ons. And it's based on Maine's actual share of federal tax receipts rather than an estimated figure.
In other words, it's an extremely conservative figure, one that understates the ultimate cost Mainers will bear--since at least some future Iraq spending is inevitable. And since the war carries so many hidden costs.