Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Million, billion, trillion...whatever

We all have known for a long time that the Iraq-hole has been very costly for U.S. taxpayers. Now a study by Columbia University economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and Harvard lecturer Linda Bilmes claim the total cost of the Iraq war could top $2 trillion when long-term costs such as lifetime health care for thousands of wounded U.S. soldiers are included. The study included disability payments for the 16,000 wounded U.S. soldiers, about 20 percent of whom suffer serious brain or spinal injuries. They said U.S. taxpayers will be burdened with costs that linger long after U.S. troops withdraw.

Before the invasion, then-White House budget director Mitch Daniels predicted Iraq would be "an affordable endeavor" and rejected an estimate by then-White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey of total Iraq war costs at $100 billion to $200 billion as "very, very high." Lindsey barely had a chance to clear out his desk before being thrown out of the administration.

Andrew Natsios did worse at the guess the number of jelly beans in the jar carnival game played before the Iraq invasion. Natsios, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, the lead agency responsible for rebuilding the infrastructure of Iraq had this jaw-dropping exchange on Nightline with Ted Koppel on April 23, 2003 a month after we invaded Iraq.

TED KOPPEL: Well, it's a, I think you'll agree, this is a much bigger project than any that's been talked about. Indeed, I understand that more money is expected to be spent on this than was spent on the entire Marshall Plan for the rebuilding of Europe after World War II.

ANDREW NATSIOS: No, no. This doesn't even compare remotely with the size of the Marshall Plan.

TED KOPPEL: The Marshall Plan was $97 billion.

ANDREW NATSIOS: This is 1.7 billion.

TED KOPPEL: All right, this is the first. I mean, when you talk about 1.7, you're not suggesting that the rebuilding of Iraq is gonna be done for $1.7 billion?

ANDREW NATSIOS: Well, in terms of the American taxpayers contribution, I do, this is it for the US. The rest of the rebuilding of Iraq will be done by other countries who have already made pledges, Britain, Germany, Norway, Japan, Canada, and Iraqi oil revenues, eventually in several years, when it's up and running and there's a new government that's been democratically elected, will finish the job with their own revenues. They're going to get in $20 billion a year in oil revenues. But the American part of this will be 1.7 billion. We have no plans for any further-on funding for this.

...

TED KOPPEL: And we're back once again with Andrew Natsios, administrator for the Agency for International Development. I want to be sure that I understood you correctly. You're saying the, the top cost for the US taxpayer will be $1.7 billion. No more than that?

ANDREW NATSIOS: For the reconstruction. And then there's 700 million in the supplemental budget for humanitarian relief, which we don't competitively bid 'cause it's charities that get that money.

TED KOPPEL: I understand. But as far as reconstruction goes, the American taxpayer will not be hit for more than $1.7 billion no matter how long the process takes?

ANDREW NATSIOS: That is our plan and that is our intention. And these figures, outlandish figures I've seen, I have to say, there's a little bit of hoopla involved in this.

Wonder if Natsios thinks $2 trillion is an "outlandish" figure. Go ask him. He's still the Administrator at USAID. Probably because Michael "Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job" Brown wasn't available. I am. And I can misunderestimate with the best of them. I thought I'd have a million loyal daily readers of my blog by now. The actual number is closer to the amount of countries we've reconstructed after pre-emptively invading them.

5 Comments:

Blogger Birdy said...

Numbers like that - they're hard to even imagine. Your title is dead on, unfortunately.

4:03 PM  
Blogger Reign of Reason said...

This is classic.
When will the vast majority of the American people realize they have a dunce for a president... and a bunch of idiots for administrators?
It boggles the mind...

5:24 PM  
Blogger Crankyboy said...

The administration is like an upside-down intelligence pyramid. The higher you go the less brain power you find.

5:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where is the new post for wednesday? Nothing to say about the congressional hearings.

1:49 PM  
Blogger Crankyboy said...

Posted late about a minute after you looked. I always have to decide whether to shut it down or keep going. These gang of clowns depress me to no end.

2:30 PM  

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