Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Too much is not enough...

...or vice versa, or something.

There's an Alan Fram piece on the AP wire, and the headline just annoys the hell out of me.
Bush Wants $80B More for Iraq, Afghan Wars
80B, huh? Only 80 of them? That's not so bad, is it?

Not nearly as bad as, say, $80,000,000,000.

Is it just me, or is exchanging one letter for nine digits damn close to dishonest journalism? And maybe I'm just feeling cranky today, but that's not the only thing that bugs me about the article. I fall on the wonkish side of near anybody's scale, but too many numbers with too little context can still make my eyes glaze over. This piece probably should have been spread out over three or four, because it would be better for the average reader to get all the information from any one of them than to skip over any of the information in this one. Here are some of the points I think merit independent attention...
Amid the White House's preparations, the Congressional Budget Office predicted the government will accumulate another $855 billion in deficits over the next decade.
Yeah, that's $885,000,000,000. Seven letters for nine digits is an improvement, I suppose, except that the number is totally meaningless anyway. Why? Because...
The projection, for the years 2006 through 2015, is almost two-thirds smaller than what congressional budget analysts predicted last fall. But the drop is largely due to estimating quirks that required it to exclude future Iraq and Afghanistan war costs and other expenses. Last September, their 10-year deficit estimate was $2.3 trillion.

Also left out were the price of extending Bush's tax cuts and easing the impact the alternative minimum tax would have on middle-income Americans, which could exceed $2.3 trillion, the report said.
"Quirks", huh? How about "fraud"? (and yes, that's $2,300,000,000,000. 8 letters for a dozen digits, this time...)

I admit that I almost missed this one...
Aides said about three-fourths of the $80 billion was expected to be for the Army, which is bearing the brunt of the fighting in Iraq. It also was expected to include money for building a U.S. embassy in Baghdad, estimated to cost $1.5 billion.
So when the wingnuts start their "support the troops" mantra, be sure to get an accounting for the $20,000,000,000 that's not "for the Army." Like the billion and a half for the stiped pants crowd in Baghdad.

Shadow Speaker Pelosi get this one right...
"As Congress works to ensure our troops have what they need to be safe, we owe it to them to critically examine President Bush's request and ask: What are the goals in Iraq, and how much more money will it cost to achieve them? Why hasn't the President and the Pentagon provided Members of Congress a full accounting of previous expenditures? Why, after all the effort dedicated to training Iraqi troops, aren't more Iraqi troops trained, equipped, and prepared to play a bigger security role?"
It's about responsibility. And security. Let's not let the opportunity to hold them accountable slip by.


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