Iraq costs hit $119.4 billion
Lawmakers ponder ways the money could be used in U.S.
BY ALAN FRAM, The Associated Press: June 2, 2004

  WASHINGTON - Even by Washington standards, the $119.4 billion that President Bush and Congress have provided for the first two years of the war in Iraq is real money
  Though a tiny fraction of overall federal spending, the figure is huge in other ways. It dwarfs the $100 million that could hire 2,500 more airport security screeners, the $500 million that could add 69,400 more children to Head Start, the $1 billion that would let 160,000 more low-income families keep federal rent subsidies, Senate Democrats say. Or it could reduce the runaway federal deficit.
  The $119.4 billion total, compiled by the White House Office of Management and Budget, is the administration's most comprehensive tally of the war's financial costs so far. Of the total, $97.2 billion has been for military operations, $21.2 billion for rebuilding Iraq's economy and government and $1 billion for U.S. administrative expenses there.
  Congress approved the money over the past year and a half with overwhelming votes, and few lawmakers doubt its need. But many of them say it soaks up dollars that other parts of the $2.4 trillion budget could use, from education initiatives to tax cuts and more.
  "When you integrate Iraqi spending, which is necessary, with the effort to control spending, it puts more pressure on you to make harder choices," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. "If you name one part of government immune from this, I'd like to know."
  If not used for war, the money could take a healthy bite out of the government's runaway annual deficits, which are expected to set a record this year exceeding $400 billion. The $119.4 billion is four times this year's federal spending for biomedical research, 14 times what Washington will spend to clean the environment, 26 times the FBI's budget.
  The total would also be enough to hand every Iraqi a check for $4,776 - about eight times that country's average income.
  Lawrence Lindsey, then the White House economic adviser, estimated before the Iraq war that it could cost $100 billion to $200 billion.
  Other administration officials called the figure far too large and argued that Iraq's oil revenues would let the country largely rebuild itself.
  Instead, Lindsey's estimate has proved prophetic. In an interview last week White House Deputy Budget Chief Joel Kaplan blamed the war's costs on "unanticipated events" like the bad condition of Iraq's infrastructure and the prolonged violent resistance.
  The Congressional Research Service, which provides non-partisan analyses for lawmakers, has calculated Iraq costs for the first two years at $121.8 billion, using higher defense figures than the administration. Either way, the number will grow dramatically in the near future.
  Bush has already requested an additional $25 billion for the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan next year, with the bulk of the money headed to Iraq. Administration officials have said they expect to eventually seek more than $50 billion for 2005.
  Others use higher numbers. Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., chairman of a subcommittee that controls the Pentagon's budget, says he expects the 2005 price tag to be $75 billion. Rep. John Spratt of South Carolina, top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, puts the figure as high as $80 billion.
  By the time the final Iraq figure for 2005 is in, American spending there could easily exceed $160 billion for 2003 through 2005. That would nearly double the combined costs - in today's dollars - of the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War and the Spanish-American War.