Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Another Quarter Trillion -- But Who's Counting?

The headlines yesterday focused on the “new” money – $165.4 billion – for fighting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that were part of the 2008 Supplemental appropriations bill (H.R. 2642) that President Bush signed into law on June 30. (The actual money going to the Pentagon after recession of funds previously appropriated but not obligated – $3.6 billion – came to $161.8 billion.) But when you added everything uo, the total was $257 billion.

The new money is divided between the remaining months of Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 – $99.5 billion and $65.9 billion to run through June of FY2009, that is, through the first three quarters of FY2009. Obviously, the Democrats are anticipating that they will control both the executive and legislative branches after January 20, 2009 and that the costs of the wars will taper off quickly. But don’t forget that when the request for supplemental appropriations for FY2008 arrived on the Hill, the President was asking for $108 billion for the wars. In the end, the Democratic Congress gave Bush 92 percent of what he requested – and Bush will control the FY2009 war spending for almost four of the 12 months of FY2009.

On the domestic scene, Congress succeeded in wearing down White House resistance to non-battlefield spending, starting with an additional $897 million to provide continuing assistance for Hurricane Katrina victims and another $5.7 billion to rebuild levees destroyed by the hurricane. As for the current disaster in the Mississippi River basin, $2.7 billion is directed to assist the new victims of floods in the Mississippi River basin. Relief program completed so it can deal with this year’s problem: the heavy amounts of rainfall across the water catchment basin of the upper Mississippi River.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have additional repercussions. Included in the Supplemental is a provision that doubles the amount of aid a soldier can receive to further her educati9on from $40,000 over four years to $90,000.

Military construction (but no “permanent bases) receives $5.6 billion while the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development, and foreign agricultural; programs garnered $10,1 billion over the next two years. Congress also doubled to $90,000 the maximum government assistance to service members who wore the uniform for tree years. This benefit, with estimates of the cost as high as $8 billion, is one that can be passed on to a spouse or child.

Finally, there are the grim June statistics from the battle zones
Iraq Afghanistan
June 2008 June 2008
U.S. Killed 29 (up 10 from May) U.S. KIA 27
UK Killed 1 UK KIA 12
Other 1 (Azerbaijani) Canadians 2
Others 3

Iraqis Killed U.S. KIA 2008 66
Security Forces 77 UK KIA 2008 24
Non-combatants 373 Canadian KIA 2008 11
Others KIA 2008 22

Total US fatalities 4,113 Total U.S. KIA 541
Total UK KIA 176 Total UK 110
Total Others KIA 138 Canadians 85
Total Others KIA 136

US Wounded 29,978

Estimated US costs $650 Brillion $200 Brillion

For the second month in a row, U.S. fatalities in Afghanistan almost equaled fatalities in Iraq, Overall coalition fatalities for June in Afghanistan DID exceed the coalition deaths in Iraq – again for the second straight month.


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