(UPDATE July 19: I was on the Cari and Rob Show today talking about this. Listen here. I kick off the third hour.)
It is getting tiresome listening to President Obama blame America’s budget and debt problems on his predecessor in the White House and the War on Terror. He did it again Friday.
We fought two wars, we didn’t pay for them.
Yes. It would have been more honest if Bush put his war spending “on budget” instead of in “supplemental budgets.” But that is hardly a grave sin in Washington — the land of larded-up “omnibus” spending bills and a decades-long raid of the Social Security “trust fund” to hide the true cost of government. If Congress was held to the accounting standards of the private sector, they’d all be in the hoosegow.
But let’s get some perspective here. The cost of the War on Terror — which the president has failed to end, as promised — is nothing compared to Obama’s spending spree in just his first two-plus years in office.
(By the way, is Obama’s Libyan war “on budget”? No. That’s because no house of Congress has even bothered to pass a budget, which is required by law, for all of Obama’s presidency — until the new Republican House did this year. The Democratic Senate is now going on 800-plus days and counting without passing a budget.)
According to the Congressional Research Service (PDF), this is the cost of America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — including diplomacy and medical care to veterans:
- $806 billion for Iraq
- $444 billion for Afghanistan
In total, that’s about $1.24 trillion dollars. Not a small sum, for sure. But that money has been spent over a decade. Obama’s economic “stimulus” plan, passed in February 2009, was (including interest) a cool $1 trillion — and it was pissed away in a blink of an eye.
It can be argued that the Iraq war established a stable government friendly to the United States in the Middle East. That’s something. What do we have to show for Obama’s stimulus? An “official” unemployment rate of 9.2 percent, and a real unemployment rate — meaning the underemployed and the “quit looking” — of at least 16 percent. I guess that’s something, too — but nothing positive. (At a breakfast discussion at Freedom Fest Friday morning, Wall Street Journal editorial writer Steve More noted that only 25 percent of American teenagers are employed this summer. That has to be an all-time low. These are generationally bad economic times we’re experiencing now.)
Let’s also remember that Obama’s spending plans assume annual budget deficits of at least $1 trillion every year for as far as the green eyeshades can see. And that’s taking into consideration the White House’s ridiculously rosy scenarios — such as 4 to 6 percent economic growth and the fantasy that Obamacare will save the federal government billions.
To put it another way, Obama deficit-spends more in a month than just what the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost, on average, in a year.
It would be nice if a White House beat reporter brought this up the next time Obama brings out the “wars we didn’t pay for” canard. Getting our country’s fiscal house in order can’t happen without even some basic honesty.