If the new GI bill passes the Senate and survives the president’s threatened veto, it could cost as much as $52 billion over the next 10 years. That’s a lot of money.
    But the war in Iraq has been estimated to cost $1 trillion to $3 trillion for 2002 to 2008. Estimates are it will cost $12 billion just for this month, or $5,000 a second. That $51 billion is less than the price of five months of war.
    Pitched by the Democrats is a plan that would essentially guarantee a full-ride scholarship to any in-state public university, along with a monthly housing stipend, for those who serve the military for at least three years. The proposal would give veterans 15 years to use the benefit, instead of the current 10-year limit.
    To pay for it and adhere to budget rules requiring that new benefit programs not add to the deficit, the Democratic plan would impose a surtax on individuals with incomes above $500,000. Couples would pay the tax on income exceeding $1 million.
    Bush has promised to veto it because of the tax increases in the bill to fund the programs.
    But there will be more costs attached to the war.
    Increasing numbers of U.S. troops have left the military with damaged bodies and minds, an ever-larger pool of disabled veterans that will cost the nation billions for decades to come — even as the total population of America’s vets shrinks. ...
    Democrats and Republicans are using the bill as a political football, which is truly unfortunate.
    Whatever the final GI bill turns out to cost, and however we feel about the wisdom of entering into this war, we’d feel ungrateful quibbling over a few millions.
    For what many of our veterans have gone through, paying for their education seems like the least we can do.
    Whatever it costs, it’s cheaper than waging war.