NEW YORK – Two groups put up a giant digital clock to tick off the cost of the Iraq war, days before the Republican National Convention (search) gets going less than a mile away.
The clock was unveiled Wednesday by the advocacy group Project Billboard (search) and the Center for American Progress (search), a liberal think tank headed by John Podesta (search), former President Clinton's chief of staff.
Organizers calculated the war's cost as of Wednesday at $134.5 billion and are adding $177 million per day, which comes to $7.4 million per hour or $122,820 per minute.
The two groups said the money could have been spent on projects "to make Americans safer at home and stronger abroad," including adding two new divisions to the Army, hiring 100,000 more police officers and undertaking significant improvements to safeguard ports.
"Iraq was a war of choice, and the United States is bearing virtually all of the cost," Podesta said in a statement.
The clock, on a hotel facade at Broadway and 47th Street, is blocks north of where the convention will begin next week at Madison Square Garden.
For most of the time since 1989, Manhattan passers-by have also been able to ponder a digital clock that shows the national debt, the brainchild of the late real estate developer Seymour Durst.
It went dark in 2000 after government debt levels started to fall but was restarted in 2002, when deficits began to rise again. It stopped again this spring when the building it was on was being town down, but a new version began ticking Aug. 10 not far from Times Square, The Durst Organization said.