Washington DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer joined Senator Charles Schumer and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney of the Joint Economic Committee today to discuss the impact of the Iraq war on the U.S. economy. As the war in Iraq moves into its sixth year, there is still no clear end in sight. Meanwhile, the U.S. economy continues to suffer the effects of record oil prices, job losses, inflation, and a deepening housing and credit crisis. It is long past time for the Bush Administration to explain why the $12 billion it spends on a failed war policy every month is more important than the health care, education, housing relief, and infrastructure those resources can provide here at home.
“President Bush’s mismanagement of the Iraq war and his stubborn refusal to change course have exacted tremendous costs on America,” Reid said. “The American people deserve a full accounting of what the war has cost in terms of lives, our reputation abroad, our national security abroad and at home, and our economy; and they especially deserve to know the future costs of the Administration’s Iraq strategy going forward. We call on the Administration to fulfill its obligation and provide the Congress and the public an honest assessment of the current and future budgetary and economic costs of the war in Iraq.”
Said Hoyer: “Millions of American families are hurting. The Administration must not ignore them – not when it insists we spend billions more in Iraq. It is time to change policy in Iraq, and devote the attention and resources necessary to turning our economy around.”
“We have always been aware of the high cost of this war in lives lost; but the costs of this war in dollars and cents is also far too high,” Schumer said. “It is time for this Administration to give an answer to the American people – how much do they think this war will cost? If they want to disagree with our estimates or with Dr. Stiglitz, fine – they should come and explain why. But to simply pretend that the costs of the war don’t exist – that’s not acceptable to us or the American people.”
Said Congresswoman Maloney, Vice Chair of the JEC: “The Administration should stop stonewalling and send the President’s economic advisers to Capitol Hill to explain the impact of the Iraq war on our economy. The American people are only getting half of the story, at best. The full economic costs of the war – including the economic impact of deficit financing, future care of our wounded veterans, and disruption in oil markets – are running twice as high the enormous federal spending. ‘Staying the course’ in Iraq threatens to cost the economy more than $3 trillion over the next decade. By the end of the year we will have over $1 trillion of sunk costs, so without a rapid draw down in troops we face what could be a $2 trillion decision on our future commitment in Iraq. The Bush Administration owes Congress and the American people a full accounting of the current and future costs of this war.”
- For ONE DAY of spending in Iraq – we could enroll an additional 155,350 children in Head Start per year; enroll over a million for a week of spending in Iraq; and enroll over 4.7 million for a month in Iraq.
- For ONE DAY of spending in Iraq – we could put an additional 9,100 police officers on the streets per year; hire more than 64,000 for a week’s spending in Iraq; and hire 278,000 for a month in Iraq.
- For ONE DAY of spending in Iraq – we could make college more affordable for 152,900 students through Pell Grants per year; 1,073,400 more Pell Grants for a week’s spending in Iraq; and over 4.5 million for a month’s funds spent in Iraq.
- For ONE DAY of spending in Iraq – we could help over 155,000 American families to keep their homes with foreclosure prevention counseling this year; for a week in Iraq we could help over a million families; and for a month in Iraq, we could probably erase the foreclosure crisis entirely by helping more than 4.7 million families keep their homes.
- For ONE DAY of spending in Iraq – we could provide health insurance for over 330,000 low-income children through CHIP per year; for a week we could get more than 2.3 million kids into CHIP; and for a month, we could get health care for over 10 million American kids.
- For ONE DAY of spending in Iraq – we could hire another 11,000 Border patrol agents per year; for a week we could put almost 88,000 new border patrol agents on duty; and for a month’s spending in Iraq, we could put more than 337,000 agents on the borders.