First, a brief bit of history. Cure spooky flashback sequence sound effects:
WASHINGTON (CNN)—The White House is downplaying published reports of an estimated $50 billion to $60 billion price tag for a war with Iraq, saying it is “impossible” to estimate the cost at this time.
White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels told The New York Times in an interview published Tuesday that such a conflict could cost $50 billion to $60 billion—the price tag of the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
But Trent Duffy, an OMB spokesman, said Daniels did not intend to imply in the Times interview that $50 billion to $60 billion was a hard White House estimate.
“He said it could—could—be $60 billion,” Duffy said. “It is impossible to know what any military campaign would ultimately cost. The only cost estimate we know of in this arena is the Persian Gulf War, and that was a $60 billion event.”
Remember those days? Remember when the estimate was only $50 to $60 billion dollars and the White House, worried that people would think that was too expensive, tried to downplay the estimate and then refused to give an estimate of their own because they felt there were too many variables to make an educated guess? Looking back it was a smart move on the White House’s part to refuse to give an estimate on the cost because it turns out that we’re already 40 times over what Mitch Daniels guessed as the cost and it’s growing bigger every day:
“Funding for U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and other activities in the war on terrorism expanded significantly in 2007,” the Congressional Budget Office said in a report released on Wednesday.
War funding, which averaged about $93 billion a year from 2003 through 2005, rose to $120 billion in 2006 and $171 billion in 2007 and President George W. Bush has asked for $193 billion in 2008, the nonpartisan office wrote.
“It keeps going up, up and away,” Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad said of the money spent in Iraq since U.S. troops invaded in 2003.
“We’re seeing the war costs continue to spiral upward. It is the additional troops plus additional costs per troop plus the over-reliance on private contractors, which also explodes the costs,” said Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat who opposed the war.
Since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, Congress has written checks for $691 billion to pay for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and such related activities as Iraq reconstruction, the CBO said.
This is Bush’s legacy. This is the mess the next President will inherit. What have we got to show for it? Osama bin Laden is still on the loose. Not a single weapon of mass destruction was ever found in Iraq. The vast majority of people in Iraq are worse off than they were under Saddam.
Good job, Bushie.