$200 Billion Vs. $120 Billion — Who’s Lying?

What is the bill for the war in Iraq? Is it $200 billion? Is it $120 billion? Who’s lying? The Bushies are beginning to win this argument even though the facts flatly contradict them. Here’s how the New York Times characterizes the “dispute” in its “Fact Check” coverage of the debates.

“Some factual disputes were echoes from last week’s debate between the presidential candidates, including the cost of the war – Mr. Edwards put the figure at $200 billion, but only $119 billion has been spent so far.”

Here’s how the LA Times called it.

“Edwards, by repeating Kerry’s assertion that the war in Iraq had cost $200 billion, also stretched the bottom line. Edwards counted money to be spent in the fiscal year that started Oct. 1. The cost of the war to date has been slightly more than $120 billion, according to budget officials cited by Factcheck.org, a nonpartisan website sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania.”

I love that. The LA Times chastises Edwards for tallying up the total cost of the war in Iraq by “counting money to be spent in the fiscal year that started Oct. 1.” As if that’s somehow cheating. What they should have said was, “Cheney refuses to include the money to be spent in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, money already committed to being spent. Cheney also refused to acknowledge that the bill will get even larger in the coming years. $200 billion is in fact, a conservative estimate for the total cost of the war in Iraq.”

Here are the facts. As of this very second, we’ve spent $119 billion. Bush has already allocated more funds that bring the total up to $178 billion. That money WILL be spent. Other extremely reasonable estimates of money that MUST be spent while our troops are in harm’s way in Iraq bring the total by EARLY next year to $200 billion.

Is that the total bill? Not even close. That’s a conservative estimate of the amount we have ALREADY committed ourselves to spending. And everyone agrees our troops are going to be there for years. That means the final bill will be a LOT more than $200 billion. That isn’t speculation or a bleak or rosy scenario — that’s a fact, even if Bush were to pull out every single soldier six months after being elected.

Any media outlet that claims $119 billion is an accurate estimate and that $200 billion is wrong should be blasted.

Think of it this way. If you buy a $250,000 house and your mortgage is going to bring the total cost of buying it to $325,000 over 30 years but so far you’ve only spent $20,000 on mortgage payments, tell me this — how much is the house going to cost you? $20,000? $250,000? Or $325,000?

Just thought of this: Kerry and Edwards should tie this argument into Bush’s lack of fiscal responsibility.

Say this, Kerry:

“They don’t want you to know the real cost of the war, so they mislead you by only citing the money spent as of this very second. Well, is the war in Iraq ending this very second? Are we pulling out our troops this very second? No. And we’ve committed to spending $178 billion AS OF THIS VERY SECOND and the problems — and costs — in Iraq are continuing to mount. The American people are paying the bill and they deserve to know the truth about what it’s going to cost. $200 billion is the minimal amount it’s going to cost and they know that.”

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