Feb 032006

"The White House said Thursday that it planned to ask Congress for an additional $70 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, driving the cost of military operations in the two countries to $120 billion this year, the highest since the Sept. 11 attacks." The new spending will add to the cost of an Iraq war that is currently estimated at $250 billion. Total war spending since 9/11 would rise to $440 billion. The $120 billion request for 2006 is $35 billion more than the $85 billion that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated last year that the Pentagon would need for this fiscal year. As a result, the deficit may exceed $400 billion, well beyond the recent CBO projection of $337 billion. The Iraq spending comes on top of a nearly five percent increase in the Defense Department budget. "People in the White House said [former White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey] was way off," said budget expert Steven Kosiak of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, an independent defense research group in Washington. "It turns out he was. But just not in the direction they thought."

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