Iraq War too Costly to CNN

     The Iraq War is too expensive. Americans would be better off spending it on schools and hospitals. That’s the word from CNN’s July 14 “Your $$$$$” or “Your Money” program.


      “This is a whopper of a bill, this is an expensive battle no matter how you slice it,” said CNN’s Tom Foreman during the newly renamed program, formerly the business show called “In the Money.”


     Foreman cited the $758-billion cost of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and other anti-terror efforts. That included $10 billion a month for Iraq alone, a sum Foreman called “an accountant’s nightmare.”


     That’s money that Foreman would prefer we had spent on other government projects: “Let’s say a local public hospital isn’t keeping up with growth. A major expansion and upgrade can cost over $100 million. $10 billion would get you 100 of those.” It could also buy 133 “state-of-the-art high school[s].”


     Presumably spending $10 billion on a school or hospital upgrade wouldn’t be an accountant’s nightmare, although the sums are just as large.


     In case you weren’t positive America was overspending, Foreman doubled the cost of the war at the end of his segment, claiming “there are some who say…rebuild[ing] the military] after the war may cost as much as the entire war has cost so far.” The source of this figure was never identified.


     Foreman’s math as well as methodology was off. He continued talking about health care. “Or take the new prescription drug benefit for the nation’s elderly, estimated to cost $70 billion a year. Getting that passed into law was a huge fight, with $10 billion a month, we could almost double that benefit.”


     In fact, $10 billion a month comes to $120 billion a year, which would almost triple the prescription drug benefit if added to the program.


     Aside from reminding viewers what we could better be spending $10 billion on, Foreman relied on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Neb.) for Iraq War commentary. “The surge is not working. No matter how many different ways you explain it, it hasn’t worked. Six months, 600 dead Americans, $60 billion,” Reid claimed.


      To represent the other side Foreman quoted President Bush, but only after prefacing the quote: “As for the president, he says, get used to it,” meaning the high cost of the war.


     Except that’s not what Bush said. He said, “We just started. You got all the troops there a couple of weeks ago. He asked for 20 something thousand troops. I said, if that’s what you need, commander, that’s what you got. And they just showed up. And they’re now beginning operations in full.”


     “Your Money’s” anchors tried to inject a bit of balance into the story. Christine Romans reminded Foreman that “we can’t say if we weren’t spending it in the war in Iraq, we would be spending it on all the things you outlined.”


     But Foreman breezed past her point with a line that “the money does have to come from somewhere.” Although he had previously said of the same money “We’re borrowing it. The national debt is now creeping on $9 trillion” – meaning that without the war, America likely wouldn’t have borrowed it at all.


     Following up on the point Foreman never acknowledged, Ali Velshi asked whether there might be lower taxes or rebates without the war. Foreman again sailed past the question with a comment about the war funding “reach[ing] every sector of the economy.”