Another $70 Billion
This is utterly unsurprising, but still depressing:
The Bush administration intends to seek about $70 billion in emergency funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan early next year, pushing total war costs close to $225 billion since the invasion of Iraq early last year, Pentagon and congressional officials said yesterday.
Perhaps now would be a good time to remind ourselves of the administration’s estimates (such as they were) of the cost of a US invasion of Iraq before the invasion was launched.
M. Wolfowitz dismissed articles in several newspapers this week asserting that Pentagon budget specialists put the cost of war and reconstruction at $60 billion to $95 billion in this fiscal year. He said it was impossible to predict accurately a war’s duration, its destruction and the extent of rebuilding afterward.
“We have no idea what we will need until we get there on the ground,” Mr. Wolfowitz said at a hearing of the House Budget Committee. “Every time we get a briefing on the war plan, it immediately goes down six different branches to see what the scenarios look like. If we costed each and every one, the costs would range from $10 billion to $100 billion.”
“Iraq has tremendous resources that belong to the Iraqi people. And so there are a variety of means that Iraq has to be able to shoulder much of the burden for their own reconstruction.”
“Well, the Office of Management and Budget has come up with a number that’s something under $50 billion for the cost. How much of that would be the U.S. burden and how much would be other countries is an open question.”
The White House projected Friday that postwar Iraq will not require long-term U.S. aid, in part because of oil reserves that the Bush administration contends will offset many of the costs of reconstruction.
“The United States is committed to helping Iraq recover from the conflict, but Iraq will not require sustained aid,” said a report from President Bush’s Office of Management and Budget.
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.
…In September, Daniels disputed an estimate by Bush economic adviser Larry Lindsey — who has since left the White House — that war with Iraq could cost $200 billion. Daniels said he believes Lindsey’s estimate was “the upper end of a hypothetical,” Duffy said.
Care to comment, Mr. Lindsey? Mr. Daniels?