The late Senator Everett Dirksen of Illinois used to say, “a billion here, a billion there…pretty soon we’re talking about real money.”
Senator Dirksen would shaking his head now at the billions upon billions that flow into a black hole called the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
The Bush administration is planning to seek another $100 billion for military operations in the two countries for this year and yet another $145 billion for 2008. That will bring the cost to more than $300 billion over the next two years.
Writes Andrew Taylor of The Associated Press:
For 2009, the White House assumes spending will be down to $50 billion, with no funding planned beyond then in hopes the war in Iraq will have wound down.
Bush has said his five-year plan will bring a balanced budget by 2012, but the claim has met with some skepticism from Democrats since the White House has declined to forecast long-term war costs.
“If we’re successful carrying out the president’s current policy, we would hope that we’d begin to have less of a financial commitment even in this fiscal year,” said the senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the budget won’t be unveiled until Monday. “This is our best guess.”
The spiraling war spending Ã¢â‚¬â€ up from $120 billion approved by Congress for 2006 Ã¢â‚¬â€ is largely to replace equipment destroyed in combat or worn out in harsh conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Iraq requests are certain to face scrutiny by the Democratic-controlled Congress, which is debating whether to try to block Bush’s request to increase troop levels in Iraq to quell the burgeoning violence in Baghdad.
War critics also say the Pentagon is using war funding requests to modernize the armed services with weaponry Ã¢â‚¬â€ such as the next-generation Joint Strike Fighters or the controversial V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft Ã¢â‚¬â€ unlikely to see action in Iraq or Afghanistan.