Bush Finalizing Massive Plan to Pay for
War in Iraq |
March 21, 2003 03:12 PM ET
By Adam Entous
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The initial air assault on Iraq
calls for launching nearly 700 long-range Tomahawk cruise
missiles at a cost of almost $1 million apiece, representing a
small chunk of a war budget expected to top $75 billion.
While President Bush's administration is expected to send
its massive war budget to Congress for swift approval as early
as next week, the Senate acted preemptively on Friday by
voting to trim $100 billion from Bush's tax-cut plan to cover
People familiar with the White House plan say it is
expected to total closer to $75 billion, including more than
$62 billion for the Pentagon. Initial Pentagon estimates had
put the price tag at more than $95 billion.
Bush tentatively plans to meet with Congressional leaders
on his war budget on Monday, Congressional sources said.
War cost estimates are inherently flawed since nobody knows
how long the fighting will last or how many oil fields will be
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer warned on Friday: "This
still can be a long, lengthy, dangerous engagement."
In addition to money for troops and bombs, Bush is expected
to ask Congress for seed money for the reconstruction of Iraq
after the fighting dies down.
Billions more will beef up security in New York and other
possible terrorist targets in the United States.
Bush will also ask Congress to provide aid to key allies in
the region to help them weather the economic shock of the war.
The White House is offering $1 billion in direct military
assistance and $9 billion in loan guarantees to Israel; Egypt
would get $2 billion in loan guarantees and $300 million in
economic grants; Jordan is also in line to receive more than
$1 billion, including subsidized oil, sources say.
Under pressure from some lawmakers, the administration is
also considering including aid to cash-strapped U.S. airlines.
While the White House has steered clear of providing a
breakdown, the Congressional Budget Office estimated war costs
at just over $10 billion during the first month of combat and
about $8 billion per month after that.
Military hardware doesn't come cheap. In addition to exotic
systems like the Tomahawk cruise, even relatively mundane
weapons like tank-busting munitions range in cost from
$130,000 to $300,000. Laser-guided bombs go for about $100,000
The deployment of ground forces to the region may cost up
to $14 billion. After hostilities end, the cost to return that
force to home bases would be roughly $9 billion more, CBO
said. But that's only the start.
Experts say occupation costs could far exceed the direct
military costs of the war.
The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments
estimated these five-year costs at between $25 billion and
$105 billion, depending on the number of U.S. troops on the
Reconstructing Iraq will add billions of dollars more,
though the United States plans to redirect Iraqi oil revenues
for that purpose.
The Pentagon also plans to use the Iraqi regular army to
help rebuild a postwar Iraq and is recruiting and hiring
Iraqis living in America and Europe to play a temporary role
in the reconstruction process.