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from Daily Mis-lead
January 20, 2004

President Bush and his aides have spent the last year and a half telling the American people that the war in Iraq would cost little. A new report by Defense News, however, says the president will propose another $50 billion, in addition to the $166 billion already spent. According to the non-partisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, the request "won't come until after the Nov. 2 presidential election" - effectively concealing the spending request from public scrutiny.

In the lead-up to the Iraq war, the president's staff conducted a PR campaign aimed at quelling public concern about its cost. Then White House Budget Director, Mitch Daniels, said Iraq "will not require sustained aid" and that the war cost would "be in the range of $50 billion to $60 billion." The president's top reconstruction official at the State Department told Nightline that "The American part of [reconstruction] will be $1.7 billion and we have no plans for further-on funding of this." The president's top economist, Glen Hubbard, said that "costs of any such intervention would be very small". Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz "dismissed articles in several newspapers asserting that put cost of war and reconstruction at $60 billion to $95 billion." And Bush had his new Budget Director tell the Senate that "we don't anticipate requesting anything additional for the balance of this year" - six weeks before he announced a request for an additional $87 billion. When White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey admitted that Iraq could cost up to $200 billion in the fall of 2002, he was summarily fired for his candor.

Days after the $87 billion request made by the president, the Administration was questioned by skeptical Republicans and Democrats in Congress about the rising costs of continued involvement in Iraq. But even then, the president dispatched Wolfowitz to answer the charges with a flat-out denial. Despite the public record leading up to it, Wolfowitz told Congress that "No one said we would know anything other than...this could be very expensive."

Posted: January 23, 2004


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