Republicans call for withdrawal of 'hidden cost of wars' report
John Byrne
Published: Wednesday November 14, 2007
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Two Republican senators say Democrats can't do math.

Or not exactly. Senior Republicans on Congress' Joint Economic Committee, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KN) and Rep. James Saxon (R-NJ) are calling on Democrats to retract a staff report alleging the hidden costs of the Iraq war could total more than $1.5 trillion.

In a joint statement issued to the Washington Post, 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 [Economic Committee Chairman Charles] Schumer (D-NY) and the Democratic leadership in the House and the Senate to withdraw this defective report."

The Democratic analysis claimed that President Bush's six-year invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq would end up costing Americans about $1.5 trillion, or nearly twice as much as the White House has actually spent to fight its wars, because of unseen costs like inflation, rising oil prices and expensive care for wounded veterans.

The estimate was revealed in a Democratic staff report from Congress's Joint Economic Committee. The staff report, titled "The Hidden Costs of the Iraq War," estimated that the Iraq and Afghan wars have cost the average family more than $20,000.

The White House apparently vastly underestimated the war's costs, the authors assert. It requested $804 billion -- just more than half the total costs -- to keep up its wars and occupations through 2008.

"The report argues that war funding is diverting billions of dollars away from "productive investment" by American businesses in the United States. It also says that the conflicts are pulling reservists and National Guardsmen away from their jobs, resulting in economic disruptions for U.S. employers that the report estimates at $1 billion to $2 billion," the Post's Josh White wrote Tuesday.

Israel Klein, a spokesman for the committee's majority, replied in the Post.

"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," he said.