U.S. stimulus to cost more than Iraq, Afghan war so far
WASHINGTON – Republican critics of the Democratic-backed landmark stimulus package are pointing out that its 800-billion-dollar-plus price tag would — “in one fell swoop,” as Republican Representative Todd Akin put it — consume more resources than have been laid out for two wars, so far.
The Pentagon says the United States has committed $524.6 billion to the nearly six-year-old conflict in Iraq and $120.9 billion to the fighting in Afghanistan since 2001.
“I almost have to pinch myself, gentlemen, to think that just standing here a couple of hours ago, we just voted to spend $800 billion, more than the cost of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the Republican Akin declared Wednesday after the House of Representatives passed the stimulus without a single Republican vote in favor.
“Can our economy handle that?” he asked.
For years, Democratic opponents of the war in Iraq have questioned its cost and the fact that the 2003 invasion under the Republican Bush administration and the occupation that followed were done on borrowed money, adding to U.S. debt that ultimately must be paid by taxpayers.
Now Republicans, who largely supported the Iraq war, are trying to turn the tables on their Democratic critics and ask whether it is wise to borrow as much cash again all at once, taking on even more interest costs. “I know the Bush administration was savaged for the money that’s spent on the war in Iraq,” Sen. Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican, said this week.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, dismissed Republican criticism that the package was too big, saying he had also consulted with Republicans who said “the package was too small” to get the economy moving again.
But Sessions said: “We’re talking about the largest spending bill in the history of the republic.” He cited Congressional Budget Office estimates that the stimulus could cost $347 billion in interest on the national debt over the next decade, if none of its costs are offset.
Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing(House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer speaks next to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about the economic stimulus package on Capitol Hill in Washington on January 28.