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CBO says war will cost $500 billion

FRIDAY, JULY 14, 2006

WASHINGTON – The war in Iraq has cost almost $300 billion so far and would total almost a half-trillion dollars even if all U.S. troops were withdrawn by the end of 2009, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis released Thursday.

Congress has approved $432 billion for military operations and other costs related to the war against terror since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The new CBO study is the first analysis by Congress’ scorekeeping agency of how much of that has been allocated for the Iraq war.

Since 2003, the tally of appropriations for Iraq is $291 billion, CBO said. That includes $45 billion from a $94.5 billion hurricane relief and war funding measure passed last month.

The nonpartisan CBO analysis comes after congressional debate over whether to set goals or timetables for U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq. Congress declined to set a timetable, but the Pentagon hopes to start drawing down forces by the end of the year.

The CBO study estimated future appropriations based on two scenarios provided by Rep. John Spratt Jr., D-S.C., who commissioned the study.

The more optimistic scenario would maintain 2007 troop levels in Iraq at 140,000, but quickly dropping thereafter with almost all troops out by the end of 2009. Under it, the Iraq war would cost $184 billion more over the 2007-2010 budget years.

Under a more pessimistic scenario, with a slower drawdown of troops and a continued U.S. presence of 40,000 over the long term, the Iraq war would cost $406 billion over the next decade, CBO said.

Regardless of future costs, operations in Iraq have far exceeded early estimates.

Former White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey initially predicted the war could cost $100 billion to $200 billion. Other administration officials dismissed the figure as too high and Lindsey was fired.

A recent competing analysis by the Congressional Research Service puts the tally for Iraq at $319 billion with the war in Afghanistan costing another $88 billion. The lower CBO estimate only includes appropriations passed since the war in Iraq began.


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