Democrats Demand Nussle Testify on Iraq War Costs

Posted April 16, 2008 at 1:44pm

As part of their ongoing strategy to link the sinking economy to the exploding costs of the Iraq War, House and Senate Democratic leaders today accused White House Budget Director Jim Nussle of being “afraid to come and testify” on the war’s true costs.

Joint Economic Chairman Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Nussle won’t present Congress with an honest assessment of the war’s costs because he knows the country is heading into a recession as the administration continues to seek billions of dollars for Iraq.

“The administration refuses to show up or even send a witness” to discuss the issue with lawmakers, he said. “It’s amazing” that nobody has come to testify, despite Democrats seeking a debate on the issue for the past four months.

“We want the administration to stop stonewalling and send the president’s economic advisers to Capitol Hill to explain the impact of the Iraq War on our economy,” said Joint Economic Vice-Chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.).

Nussle yesterday sent a letter to Schumer and Maloney suggesting that the economy benefits when “terrorist attacks are prevented, and we doubt any critics of the levels of spending take that into account.”

This claim is “either laughable or insulting,” replied Schumer, pointing to investments in domestic programs such as Pell Grants or Head Start as ways to more directly help the economy. He noted that the costs of being in Iraq for a month could be used to “solve the entire foreclosure crisis.”

The letter also states that the relative cost of the Iraq War “has been even higher” during previous wars, such as in World War II. Schumer countered that the Iraq War costs more “in real dollars” than any previous war.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called on Bush to start working with Congress on spending bills in general, questioning why he would want his legacy to include “another failed year on appropriations.”

“After all this time, you would think he would understand that he’s not King George. He’s President George,” Reid said.