Republicans Seek Retraction of Report on Wars' 'Hidden Costs'

By Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Senior Republicans on Congress's Joint Economic Committee called yesterday for the withdrawal of a report by the committee's Democratic staff that argues that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost more than $1.5 trillion.

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Rep. H. James Saxton (R-N.J.) attacked the report on "hidden costs" of the wars, calling its methodology flawed and asserting factual errors. The report, issued yesterday, said the war has cost nearly double the $804 billion in appropriations and requests for war funding thus far.

In a joint statement, the committee's Republicans called the report "another thinly veiled exercise in political hyperbole masquerading as academic research."

"All wars involve costs, and the war on terror is no exception," Brownback and Saxton said. "The Democrats' report would have benefited from more analysis and quality control, and less political content. We call on Senator Schumer and the Democratic leadership in the House and the Senate to withdraw this defective report." Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) chairs the committee.

The report argued that large war-related economic costs to U.S. taxpayers do not appear in the budget, such as the rising price of oil, paying for the care of the wounded, fixing damaged military equipment and interest on foreign debt. It estimated that the wars have cost the average American family of four more than $20,000.

War funding experts expressed skepticism about some of the findings but agreed that the wars carry costs well over what Congress has appropriated. Republicans on the committee blasted parts of the report as "unintelligibly confused." White House press secretary Dana Perino said yesterday that the report was a politically motivated "attempt to muddy the waters on what has been some positive developments being reported out of Iraq."

Israel Klein, a spokesman for the committee's majority, defended the report: "Instead of dealing with the substance of this report, the White House is once again trying to deflect attention away from the blistering costs of this war in Iraq."

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