President Bush at odds with Congress over war spendings
President Bush’s fiscal blueprint has come under criticism by Senate Democrats who are still frowning on the Republican minority for blocking a debate on the troop surge suggested by the U.S. leader. “Nowhere are the costs of these administration’s policies more vivid than in the budget request before us today, for operations in Iraq,” underscored Democrat Carl Levin, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman. “Our nation has already made an investment of over $US 330 BLN and a sacrifice of over 3,000 lives lost and 22,000 wounded in Iraq. But this has not brought us the secure and stable Iraq that we all wish to see.”
The new budget shows the toll four years of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan has taken. Replacing military equipment alone costs more than a quarter of the money expected for military operations. Nevertheless, administration officials have defended the expensive proposition and the call for more troops. “The costs of defending the nation, undoubtedly, are high,” declared Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates. “The only thing costlier, ultimately, would be to fail to commit the resources necessary to defend our interests around the world and to fail to prepare for the inevitable threats of the future.”And General Peter Pace, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, warns: “There are multiple challenges out there for our armed forces, which to me solidifies the need for more troops.”
During a Senate Budget Committee hearing on War costs, Democratic Senators grilled the Congressional Budget Office representative over the spending increases.Senator Robert Menendez pointed out: “We spent about $US 8 BLN a month in Iraq, we spent $US 2 BLN a week in Iraq, we spent $US 280 MLN every day in Iraq, we spent $US 11.5 MLN every hour in Iraq.”
According to J. Michael Gilmore of Congressional Budget Office, “CBO (Congressional Budget Office) estimates that the incremental cost – that is the costs over and above the costs of the previously planned operations which would have sustained 15 brigade combat teams in Iraq – in the president's plan would range from $US 9 BLN to $US 13 BLN through fiscal year 2009. If that increase in forces was extended to last 12 months, CBO estimates, the cost through fiscal year 2009 would range from $US 20 BLN to $US 27 BLN.”
To meet the increased costs of war, President Bush is seeking to eliminate or sharply reduce 141 government programmes, although he did propose those cuts before and they have been rejected by Congress. This time around, Mr Bush will have to deal with Democrats, who have already declared his budget dead on arrival.