Albright Blames Lack of Health Care and Minnesota Bridge Collapse on Iraq War

     Whether the issue is health care, Social Security, infrastructure or post-Hurricane Katrina problems, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright blames the Iraq war.

     After making some outlandish comments about President George W. Bush last week, Albright turned her attention to funding for domestic policy initiatives.

     She blamed lack of funding for domestic programs – specifically Social Security, health care, and infrastructure (including last summer’s Minnesota bridge collapse) on the Iraq war.

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     “I think what we’re seeing as a result of a huge budget and a huge deficit are a number of problems in terms of being able to fund programs,” Albright said. “I’m not an expert on health care, but issues of Social Security, health care, infrastructure – I mean, we just heard about the bridge issue in Minneapolis – and various aspects.  The war is costing an incredible amount of money and we do have to have a defense budget that supports our military. But, I think the cost of the war – is incremental in every way – has added to the increase of the deficit.”

     Albright’s attempt to link the Minnesota bridge collapse to the Iraq war come days after the National Transportation Safety Board revealed the bridge collapsed from a design flaw, not a lack of maintenance. The bridge was constructed during the Lyndon B. Johnson administration.

     Albright spoke to an audience January 19 at a Borders bookstore in Tysons Corner, Va., outside of Washington, D.C., to promote her new book “Memo to the President Elect: How We Can Restore America's Reputation and Leadership.”

     According to Albright, war funding was tied to problems that were a result of Hurricane Katrina. She also linked current economic woes and talk of a “stimulus package” to the war in Iraq.

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     “Another issue that I sometimes call the ‘Katrina effect’ is that a lot of Americans wonder how come we can spend money on that [the Iraq war] and not really deal with something as disastrous as Katrina was,” Albright said.

     “I do think that what is interesting to me are the discussions in the last week or so about the importance of the economy all of a sudden, where there is more and more a sense that we are on the verge of or in a recession and discussions of a stimulus package. But I think that there will be more and more of how well these trade-offs will happen. And, I think, without going into specifics, we do have to end the war in Iraq. I really do believe the question is, ‘What is the best way to end it in a responsible way.’”

     Albright also commented on what she thought was important for the 2008 presidential election cycle. She said that there are some hard decisions to be made and it comes down to raising taxes or running up deficits to foreign countries.

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     “What we need to be asking our candidates in either party is – what are the trade-offs? How do you in fact make sure our economy functions and that we get our budget – either that we’re willing to raise taxes or we’re willing to live with a deficit. But the deficit is what is happening in terms of foreign countries investing in us all of a sudden. So all that is very linked, and that is the debate that has to take place in the next nine months.”

     On NBC’s January 8 “Today,” Albright revealed she was working with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Clinton had faced criticism, which was heavily covered by the media, for saying the successes in the civil right's movement of Martin Luther King, Jr., were due in large part to President Lyndon B. Johnson.

     On January 9, Albright said in another book appearance she thought the current president, George W. Bush, has had one of the “worst presidencies in history.”

     “This is a purely practical point here, and I think there’s a lot of work to be done,” Albright said. “And I think the judgment is that this is one of the worst presidencies we’ve had and people will wonder what it is that the role of the vice president is.”