09/12/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Yes, We're Still Counting

The counter below oughta put the cost of U.S. healthcare reform into perspective. At the moment the cost of U.S. wars over the past nine years is closing in on $900 billion. Health care reform would cost an estimated $900 billion to $1 trillion over the next 10 years.

Which does America prefer -- taking lives or saving lives?

Consider this trade-off: Taxpayers in New York City, where I live, will pay $30.6 billion for total war spending in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. That amount of money could have paid for an entire year's worth of health care for 5,637,896 people, more than half the city's population.

How about Elkhart, Indiana? "Hammered by the recession," it became Barack Obama's "symbol of the need for his stimulus plan." Taxpayers in Elkhart will pay $99.7 million for spending on both wars since 2001. That could have provided 29,533 people with health care for an entire year.

Have a look your own community's trade-off.

According to the National Priorities Project, the counter indicates all of the approved funding to date for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition to this approved amount, the FY2010 budget shows a $130 billion request for more war spending. This would bring total war spending in Iraq and Afghanistan to more than $1 trillion.

(When all FY2010 war-related amounts are approved, the counter will be adjusted so that it indicates the new totals at the end of FY2010.)