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As President Obama and Congress consider their next move on the crisis in Iraq, they must take into consideration the cost to the U.S. and American taxpayers when our nation goes to war.

According to the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated National Priorities Project (NPP), a nonprofit research group that tracks federal spending, the U.S. has spent more than $816 billion on military action in Iraq since 2003. Meanwhile, domestic human, social, and infrastructure needs have suffered drastic budget cutbacks. One recent poll shows that 74 percent of voters oppose sending combat troops back into Iraq, while an overwhelming majority of Americans consistently support investment in domestic programs like public education, jobs, food assistance, health care, and renewable energy and the environment.

NPP's data shows that the dollars we spent on 10 years of war in Iraq could have financed a well-rounded domestic program, including: provided 4.75 million students Pell Grants of $5,550; equipped 4 million households with wind power; hired 65,000 new police officers; supplied 5 million veterans with VA medical care; and paid 100,000 elementary school teachers each year for a decade.

"With our domestic economy still struggling, our veterans in dire need of care and support, and millions of people struggling to make ends meet at home, we can't afford to sink more taxpayer dollars into renewed combat operations," said Doug Hall, National Priorities Project executive director. "The President and Congress must look for ways to be helpful in the Iraq crisis that don't involve combat operations and the cost to our nation that goes along with them."