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Obey Warns Cost of Afghan War Could Rival Tab for Health Care

House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wisc.) warned Thursday that the long-term, expanded commitment to Afghanistan envisioned by U.S. military leaders would cost nearly a trillion dollars over the next decade.

With such a hefty price tag, Obey said that Congress should be as concerned about the costs of its military commitments in Afghanistan as it is about the price of health care legislation at home.

Speaking to reporters following a closed briefing by National Security Advisor Gen. Jim Jones, Obey warned, “if it’s a 10-year commitment, it will cost nearly one trillion … I think we need to ask where the money will come from.—

“I just think we need to think this through … we need to apply the same intellectual rigor to this as we are to health care,— Obey added.

Obey, who has sided with the Democratic Party’s left wing on war issues in the past, also said he doubts that the conditions in Afghanistan make a long-term commitment — including sending in thousands more troops — a viable strategy.

“We have a government that in my view is almost useless in dealing with the problems at hand,— Obey said.

If the Afghan government was in better shape, increasing troop levels and the U.S.’s financial commitment to the country would be a more sensible strategy, he said.

Obey, who has been in Congress for two decades, is an influential member of his party’s more liberal flank, particularly on war issues. Given his reluctance to expand the U.S. commitment in Afghanistan, it could prove difficult for the Obama administration to win him over should the White House decide to boost troop levels in the country later this fall.

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