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3/9/08

AP's Misleading Report on Iraq War Costs

Studies: Iraq costs US $12B per month

(AP)- "The flow of blood may be ebbing, but the flood of money into the Iraq war is steadily rising, new analyses show. In 2008, its sixth year, the war will cost approximately $12 billion a month... Beyond 2008, working with "best-case" and "realistic-moderate" scenarios, they project the Iraq and Afghan wars, including long-term U.S. military occupations of those countries, will cost the U.S. budget between $1.7 trillion and $2.7 trillion — or more — by 2017."

Actually, Joseph Stiglitz said in his report that "conservative to moderate estimates" are less than a trillion to more than 2 trillion. AP got that wrong. And I like the insinuation that greater bloodshed will come- "blood may be ebbing." Ebbing- "A period of decline or diminution"

"Interest on money borrowed to pay those costs could alone add $816 billion"

Actually, their moderate estimate of interest is only $385 billion.

"That counts not just military operations, but embassy costs, reconstruction and other war-related expenses... The reasons are numerous: the "surge" of additional U.S. units into Iraq; rising fuel costs; fattened bonuses to attract re-enlistments; and particularly the need to "reset," that is, repair or replace worn-out, destroyed or damaged military equipment... This factor figures most in the category of veterans' medical care and disability payments, where the CBO foresees $9 billion to $13 billion in costs by 2017.

Stiglitz/Bilmes probably way overestimated healthcare costs for the wounded. Congress estimates only $9 billion for this (in the next ten years) and Stiglitz/Bilmes estimates up to $717 billion.

AP's list of factors is misleading. Stiglitz said their "analysis starts with the $500 billion" that includes military operations, embassy costs, reconstruction and other war-related expenses. Stiglitz/Bilmes then figured in recruiting costs, retention problems, bonuses for re-enlistments, improved benefits, and replacing worn equipment. They then delve into costs from 'making oil producers the big winners,' and the 'ills' born by other government agencies that could have received more funding, such as socialist programs, if not for the war. And then the "option value" of military preparedness some Americans pay. AP doesn't mention these dubitable factors.

AP also doesn't mention the anti-Bush rhetoric in this report. Stiglitz suggests Bush either "misleads" or is "incompetent." He says Bush misled America about WMD's in Iraq and about Saddam's connections with Al Qaeda. It turns out Stiglitz is a socialist who promotes more government intervention and breaches of constitutional freedoms. Bilmes likewise has a long history of criticizing Bush with dubiously high estimates of economic costs.

Could AP's misleading report have anything to do with Moveon.org's new campaign (together with Think Progress, Americans United for Change, VoteVets, US Action, etc) to end the war based on economical reasons and put the money into socialist programs?

What AP doesn't report is that Bush's years have seen remarkable economic growth. The strongest productivity growth in four decades, a strong GDP, an increased Household net worth, lower unemployment. And 2007's deficit was the lowest in 6 years.

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