Alex Slater / Tom O’Reilly
(212) 381-4009/(917) 701-6430
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NEW YORK (August 25, 2004) – Project Billboard and the Center for American Progress today released a major new analysis of the cost of the Iraq war, detailing exactly how the $144.4 billion pledged to date could have been spent on multiple projects to make American safer at home and stronger abroad. The report, “Opportunity Cost of the Iraq War,” coincides with the unveiling of a major new billboard in New York’s Times Square. The billboard, which will go live at 11 a.m. today, will feature a constantly updated clock counting the cost of the Iraq war, similar to the former national debt clock. The clock will start at $134.5 billion and increase at a rate of $177 million per day, $7.4 million per hour and $122,820 per minute. The billboard will be featured in a full page ad in the New York Times next Monday, 30 August.
The “Opportunity Cost of the Iraq War” report reveals that for the cost of the Iraq war to date, the United States could have undertaken 18 major new projects to strengthen its security in the world and at home. These include:
- Adding two new divisions to the Army
- Putting 100,000 new police officers on the nation’s streets
- Doubling the size of the Firefighters Grant Program
- Doubling America’s Special Operations forces
- Undertaking significant improvements to safeguard ports
- Funding important initiatives to safeguard loose nuclear weapons
“Whether you are a critic or supporter of President Bush’s policy in Iraq, two points are clear: Iraq was a war of choice, and the United States is bearing virtually all of the cost,” said John Podesta, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress. “At a time when there are many competing security priorities- ranging from strengthening our conventional military to securing weapons grade nuclear material around the world, to protecting our ports and chemical plants from terrorist attack to putting more police on the street, it’s important to recognize the opportunity cost of the choice to invade Iraq at the time and in the manner that we did.”
“The Iraq conflict has already cost American taxpayers an astonishing $134.5 billion,” said Deborah Rappaport, spokesperson for Project Billboard, “We feel it is vital that citizens be aware of this considerable expenditure at this important time in our nation’s history. What better place than in the billboard capital of the world. We’re also proud to be working with the Center for American Progress – an important organization dedicated to defending America’s most important values.”
The Iraq cost clock, located at 47th and Broadway on the north facade of W Hotel, will go live at 11am today, and will be promoted in a full page advertisement in the New York Times next Monday, August 30, 2004. Project Billboard had been involved in a major lawsuit against Clear Channel last month when the media giant rejected one of the group’s anti-war billboards. The organization, which is launching a nationwide fundraising drive, also plans outdoor advertisements in prominent locations in Miami, FL and Los Angeles, CA. The ads, which will focus on issues including the Iraq war, education and the environment, will be announced later this year.
A representative of Project Billboard will meet press at the location at 47th and Broadway from 10.45am today. For more details, contact Moishe Friedman at 917-701-6430.
About Project Billboard
Project Billboard is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization, (501) (c) (3) established in 2003 by a group of concerned Americans seeking to achieve a renewed national commitment to the principles of open inquiry, debate, diversity, tolerance, and free expression. Project Billboard seeks to help educate voters of issues facing our nation, to help inform their decisions at the ballot box.
About the Center for American Progress
The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”