Bush to ask for another €80bn in war costs

The Bush administration will announce today that it wants about €80bn (€61.3bn) more for this year’s costs of fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Bush administration will announce today that it wants about €80bn (€61.3bn) more for this year’s costs of fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The request would push the total provided so far for those wars and for US efforts against terrorism elsewhere in the world to more than £155bn (€223.2bn) since the first money was provided shortly after the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York’s World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.

That is nearly half the £340bn (€489.6bn) the United States spent for the First World War or the €497bn it expended for the Vietnam War, when the costs of those conflicts are translated into 2005 values.

White House officials refused to comment on the war spending package, which will be presented as the United States confronts a new string of violence in Iraq as that country’s January 30 elections approach.

The forthcoming request underscored how the war spending has clearly exceeded initial White House estimates. Early on, then-presidential economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey placed Iraq costs of €79.2bn to €158.4bn, only to see his comments derided by administration colleagues.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, said yesterday it was Congress’ “highest responsibility” to provide the money that American troops needed. But in a written statement, she said Democrats would ask questions about Bush’s policies there.

“What are the goals in Iraq, and how much more money will it cost to achieve them? Why hasn’t the president and the Pentagon provided members of Congress a full accounting of previous expenditures?” Pelosi added.

She also said she wanted to know why Iraqi troops were not playing a larger role in security there.

The package would not formally be sent to Congress until after President George Bush introduces his 2006 budget on February 7, aides said yesterday. They said White House budget chief Joshua Bolten or other administration officials would describe the spending request publicly today.

Until now, the White House had not been expected to reveal details of the war package until after the budget’s release.

The decision to do so earlier comes after congressional officials argued to the administration that withholding the war costs from Bush’s budget would open the budget to criticism that it was an unrealistic document, one aide said. Last year, the spending plan omitted war expenditures and received just that critique.

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