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Hidden outlays to push war costs to 3.5 trillion : Democrats

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Nov 13, 2007
Hidden costs could send the price tag of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ballooning to 3.5 trillion dollars by 2017, much higher than previous estimates, Democrats warned on Tuesday.

Party leaders cited findings of the new study in their latest attempt to build support for their so-far unsuccessful drive to force President George W. Bush to change his Iraq strategy.

The economic cost of both conflicts will reach 1.6 trillion dollars by the end of 2008, according to the report, drawn up by Democratic staff members on Congress's Joint Economic Committee (JEC), double the 804 billion spent or requested by the Bush administration.

Some 1.3 trillion dollars of that figure will account for Iraq spending alone, the report entitled "War at Any Price," said.

"The backbreaking costs of this war to American families, the federal budget and the entire economy are beyond measure in many ways," said Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer.

"What this report makes crystal clear is that the cost to our country in lives lost and dollars spent is tragically unacceptable."

The report's ceiling figure of 3.5 trillion dollars, is 1.1 trillion dollars higher than a non-partisan estimate by the Congressional Budget Office last month.

The JEC estimate assumes a drawdown of US troops in Iraq but the retention of a large-scale US force in the country.

It also takes into account money spent and requested for the wars, interest payments on foreign loans used to finance the spending, and factors in higher costs of oil due to declined Iraqi production.

It also estimates the cost of repair and refitting military equipment and the outlay needed to retain soldiers in the ranks and economic disruption caused by the deployment of US army reserve units.

The report was released ahead of an expected House of Representatives vote this week on a proposal to deliver 50 billion dollars to fund the wars for a four-month period instead of the 196 billion budget request from Bush.

The proposal would require the withdrawal or redeployment of most troops in Iraq to begin immediately with a goal of ending it within a year.

Bush has repeatedly resisted attempts by anti-war Democrats in Congress to force him to accept troop withdrawal timelines for the Iraq force.

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US military meets recruiting goals
Washington (AFP) Nov 13, 2007
The US military met its monthly recruiting goals for October, a Pentagon spokesman said Tuesday, calling it "good news" for a force that has been strained by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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