The Iraq War: Such a Bargain!
"At that price," the shopper says, "even if you don't need it, it's a bargain." And so it is with the Iraq War, at least according to Fox News. Citing numbers from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), "the total cost of the eight-year war was less than the stimulus bill passed by the Democratic-led Congress in 2009." For a mere $709 billion, the United States fought an unnecessary war in Iraq that cost 4,400 American lives, wounded over 20,000 more, gutted the essential effort against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, nearly broke the overstretched U.S. military, catapulted Iran to regional dominance and undermined the nation's international standing. What a steal!
That's the conclusion of Fox News and its fellow travelers over at Fox Nation. On the eve of President Obama's primetime speech to the nation on the situation in Iraq, Fox suggested that the strategic and financial disaster President Bush's invasion produced was a much better deal than the stimulus package needed to help offset his mismanagement of the economy:
According to CBO numbers in its Budget and Economic Outlook published this month, the cost of Operation Iraqi Freedom was $709 billion for military and related activities, including training of Iraqi forces and diplomatic operations.
The projected cost of the stimulus, which passed in February 2009, and is expected to have a shelf life of two years, was $862 billion.
The U.S. deficit for fiscal year 2010 is expected to be $1.3 trillion, according to CBO. That compares to a 2007 deficit of $160.7 billion and a 2008 deficit of $458.6 billion, according to data provided by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.
Left unmentioned, of course, is that the projected fiscal year 2009 deficit was also abou $1.3 trillion the day Barack Obama replaced George W. Bush in the White House. More important, the glitzy chart (below) hyping the supposedly minimal impact of Bush's Iraq conflict on the American bottom line obscures the flood of red ink his tax cut windfall for wealthy has produced.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities demolished the mythology promoted by President Bush ("You cut taxes and the tax revenues increase") and the usual suspects on the right. CBPP found that Bush tax cuts accounted for almost half of the mushrooming deficits during his tenure. And as Citizens for Tax Justice documented last year, between 2001 and 2010 the Bush tax cuts busted the budget to the tune of almost $2.5 trillion. (A figure which, by the way, is than double the price tag for the deficit-reducing health care reform law.)
Looking ahead, the picture is much grimmer still. And as another recent CBPP analysis revealed, over the next 10 years, the Bush tax cuts if made permanent will contribute more to the U.S. budget deficit than the Obama stimulus, the TARP program, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and revenue lost to the recession put together. $700 billion of that - about the cost of the Iraq war - would go to the richest 2% of American taxpayers.
Not content to rest its bizarre case, Fox News provided less context to confuse matters further. "According to an analysis by the American Thinker's Randall Hoven," the article declared, "the cost of the Iraq war from 2003-2008 -- when Bush was in office -- was $20 billion less than the cost of education spending and less than a quarter of the cost of Medicare spending during that same period."
Money, one can imagine Fox News suggesting, better spent on the next war against Iran.