Reconstruction Deconstructed

Monday, February 05, 2007

Let's set the stage. Bush unveiled his budget today (and by unveiled, I mean like the kind where you went to a strip club, but it turned out to be a drag show...that kind of "unveiled) for a whopping $2.9 Trillion.

Of that $2.9 Trillion, including $624.6 billion in Defense spending, which is an 11.3% raise from last year.

On its face, this is not awful. It includes, among other things, a 3% raise for troops. A whopping 3% raise. Thanks George. Inflation, by the way, is at 3.1%.

Here's where it gets fun. The figure includes $93.4 billion in aditional money for the war this year, and $141.7 billion in "anticipated" costs for next year to repair, replace and retool. No problem; war tends to beat equipment up.

Interestingly, according to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments:

Steven Kosiak, an analyst with the private Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said the president's proposed increases bring the Defense Department budget back up to where it was during the 1980s, a peak period for Pentagon spending, when calculated in today's dollars.

"An 11.3 percent increase is the kind of increase we had right after 9/11 and in the four or five years of the (President) Reagan buildup," Kosiak said. "So by historical perspectives, it's a pretty big jump."
The stage is set.

I seem to remember Paul Wolfoqitz saying:
“There’s a lot of money to pay for this that doesn’t have to be U.S. taxpayer money, and it starts with the assets of the Iraqi people…and on a rough recollection, the oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years…We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.” [Source: House Committee on Appropriations Hearing on a Supplemental War Regulation, 3/27/03]

Remember, back in '03, how Wolfowitz dressed-down the General at the time by saying the war wouldn't cost as much nor would reconstruction require the level of troops that the General (Shinseki) said it'd require? A reminder, compliments of the February 28 edition of the New York Times:
Mr. Wolfowitz spent much of the hearing knocking down published estimates of the costs of war and rebuilding, saying the upper range of $95 billion was too high, and that the estimates were almost meaningless because of the variables.

Moreover, he said such estimates, and speculation that postwar reconstruction costs could climb even higher, ignored the fact that Iraq is a wealthy country, with annual oil exports worth $15 billion to $20 billion. "To assume we're going to pay for it all is just wrong," he said.
Just sayin'.

And speaking of the "cost" of war, take a quick listen to Ted Koppel's report about who we don't hear about: the number of civilian contractors killed in Iraq. Their casualty figures are not reported in the DOD statistics, and they are used more now than ever before (Koppel's report focused on comparing contractor involvement in Vietnam and Iraq. And keep them as much in you thoughts as anyone else.


Mike 8:19 AM  

What a nightmare.

Mike 12:29 PM  

And yet another Friday passes with Mike both thirsty & confused as to how best to quench that thirst. ;-(

How's a guy to know whether to reach for a stout or an IPA without that Smitty guidence???

Smitty 3:16 PM  

Smitty needs some down-time to blog is all....

Mike 8:14 AM  

Changed the profile pic, huh?

Smitty 10:21 AM  

Yeah. I had the other one for a long time. This one made me laugh.

Thrillhous 2:43 PM  

Definitely like the new pick. RIP, Chris Farley.

Hmm, massive build-up in defense spending plus anonymous DOD officials saying Iran is interfering in Iraq? Not good.

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