Congress Grills Bremer on Iraq Spending Plan
The chief U.S. administrator for Iraq faced skeptical questioning in Congress as he defended a plan that seeks $20 billion for civilian reconstruction in Iraq – nearly 10 times the administration’s estimate of a just a few months ago.
Officials said the $20 billion would cover an array of reconstruction-related activities, ranging from vast public-works projects to $200 million for two new prisons and $100 million for 3,500 new housing units. A children’s hospital would be built at a cost of $150 million. And $100 million is being requested to protect witnesses and their families who testify against former government officials, terrorist groups or organized-crime figures. By comparison, the U.S. in 2000 spent $28.4 million on the federal witness-protection program, while California – a state with about 15 million more residents than Iraq – spends $3 million a year on witness-protection program.
The request, which Congress appears ready to approve with few modifications, marks a massive increase in U.S. funding to rebuild Iraq. Congress earlier this year set aside $2.4 billion for rebuilding projects that was meant to last through next year.
I don’t get it. The administration has asked for $52 billion for military operations in Iraq. The current monthly cost is $3.9 billion (roughly $47 billion) and many analysts agree that the rate is too much even for Pentagon standards. Why does the administration expect to spend more money next year? Does it mean attacks against the U.S. troops will not only continue but increase its pace? Why is it necessary to spend $20 billion for reconstrction? This is like $1000 per capita - almost equal to their income per capita. Does the U.S have to build prisons, houses, hospitals for Iraq? Why so much money for witness protection? Assuming that there would be 1000 witnesses to protect, this is $100,000 per witness.

To me it looks like the administration has overstated the cost of spending on Iraq - both the military and the civilian spending - in the amount of $20-30 billion (I predict $3 billion per month on military).

The question is why?
1. They do not want to go back to Congress 2 months before the election and ask for more money (in case it is needed). 60% of the population is against it today, but they will forget it next year.
2. They expect to face bigger problems next year
3. They are using the money somewhere else (a build-up for another military operation?)
4. All of the above

Posted by: . 2003-09-23