Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Heads in the Sand

In the previous post, I noted the news out today that the occupation of Iraq, along with the U.S. military action in Afghanistan, is projected to cost $2.4 trillion dollars.

When asked about the figure, White House press secretary Dana Perino served up a cocktail of dishonesty and denial.

Well, part of it is that when you start having all -- just a ton of speculation. It's a hypothetical that was created based on questions that Democrats in Congress who don't want us to be in the war asked the Congressional Budget Office to provide. Our force structure in Iraq and Afghanistan has fluctuated. Already this year, the President said that 5,700 troops would come home by December. We don't know what the costs are going to be over the years, and so because that fluctuates, it's just wildly premature to put out a number like that.

Q Okay, so what might be a more reasonable estimate? I'm sure folks at OMB have their own counter.

MS. PERINO: Look, spending to fight the global war on terror is an investment in our security and it is something that the President is committed to prioritizing in the budget. We hope that Congress would agree. We don't know how much the war is going to cost in the future. We do our best to try to provide those projections, as we did last February when we sent up the budget and we said we think this is how much we're going to need, $146 billion -- $149 billion. We added $46 billion to that in the supplemental that we asked for last week.

You can't project that far into the future. We are starting to see good signs of success -- I'm sorry -- signs of progress in Iraq. We want those trend lines to continue. We want our troops to have the force protection they need, the equipment that they need, and the care for our wounded warriors and their families need to be factored into this, as well. But $2.4 trillion is pure speculation.

Q If you can say it's inaccurate and others can say it's wildly inaccurate, surely there must be some kind of quantifiable sense as to what this --

MS. PERINO: I think what they looked at 10 years ago -- the answer is we just don't operate that way in terms of providing a federal budget. We provide as much information as we can, but there are changing conditions on the ground and it's just -- it would not serve the public well to put out numbers that we don't have any confidence in.
And if you think that was bad, the Republicans in congress did Perino one better.

They didn't even show up for the hearing where the numbers were revealed.

Because Republicans simply cannot stand being confronted with facts that conflict with their worldview.

Eyes closed.

Fingers in ears.