Democrats say hidden costs double war price- WPost

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WASHINGTON, Nov 13 (Reuters) A new study by congressional Democrats says ''hidden costs'' have driven the price of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to about 1.5 trillion dollars, The Washington Post reported today.

That figure is nearly double the 804 billion dollars the White House has spent or requested, according to the report by the Democratic staff of Congress's Joint Economic Committee, which examines the hidden costs of the wars, the Post said.

According to the panel, the hidden costs include higher oil prices, the expense of treating wounded veterans and interest payments on money borrowed to pay for the wars, the newspaper said.

The report was expected to be presented on Capitol Hill today.

A 21-page draft obtained by the newspaper estimates that the wars have cost the average US family of four more than 20,000 dollars the Post said.

The study concludes that the cost to the average family could more than double, to 46,300 dollars, over the next decade, with estimated economic costs to the United States reaching 3.5 trillion dollars if the conflicts continue at their current pace, the Post said.

The Post said the report estimated that war injuries could add more than billion in future disability and medical care costs, including billions in lost earnings for veterans who cannot work because of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Members of the panel's Republican staff could not be reached for comment, the Post said.

The newspaper cited war funding experts as saying that some of the numbers in the report should be met with skepticism.

The experts said it is difficult to calculate the precise impact of the Iraq war on global oil prices. They also said it was speculative to estimate how much the war will cost over time because situations change daily on the battlefield, the Post reported.

REUTERS CS RK1140

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