Wednesday, May 11, 2005

War is (financial) hell

Alarm bells. The Washington Post reports:

The Senate gave final passage yesterday to an $82 billion emergency war-spending bill, sending President Bush a measure that will push the cost of the Iraq invasion well past $200 billion.

Even with such large, unanticipated expenditures, Army officials and congressional aides say more money will be needed as early as October. The Army Materiel Command, the Army's main logistical branch, has put Congress on notice that it will need at least two more emergency "supplemental" bills just to finance the repair and replacement of Army equipment. By 2010, war costs are likely to exceed half a trillion dollars, according to nonpartisan congressional researchers...

The overwhelming vote and the desultory debate over the mounting cost of the war in Iraq belied concerns that the war is taking a toll on both the U.S. Treasury and the military's efforts to retool for the future. For fiscal 2005, the Pentagon has now been allocated about $100 billion for war costs, 45 percent more than last year. That total is nearly 30 percent of the $350 billion deficit the federal government is projected to run this year.

With the president's signature, the government will have allocated $350.6 billion for war-related spending since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Congressional Research Service estimates. Since 2003, Congress has given the Defense Department $183 billion for Iraq, while appropriating an additional $25 billion to other government agencies operating in Iraq, such as the State Department, for a total of $208 billion, according to the CRS. During last year's presidential campaign, the Bush team excoriated Democratic challenger John F. Kerry for asserting that the war would cost $200 billion.

An additional $74 billion has been appropriated for Afghanistan. Still more has been spent on enhanced security and other military operations that stemmed from the 2001 attacks.

So Lawrence Lindsay, fired White House economic advisor, was right. More than right. What was it Paul Wolfowitz said about the war more or less paying for itself?

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