ThinkProgress.org: Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers are upset over a new Government Accountability Office report showing that the “soaring price of oil will leave the Iraqi government with a cumulative budget surplus of as much as $79 billion by year’s end.” Since 2003, U.S. taxpayers have spent $42 billion for the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq. In contrast, the Iraqi government has allocated $28 billion for similar improvements, but has spent less than $4 billion.
Today on CNN, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) tried to spin these facts as good news and a vindication of the Bush administration’s policies in Iraq:
BLITZER: Sen. Cornyn, there are a lot of Americans who feel that the Iraqis are playing the U.S. for suckers.CORNYN: Well, I think, you know, we’ve fought long and hard to get to this position where now there is a hope that Iraq can govern and defend itself, Wolf. If we had simply quit as Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Obama wanted us to do early on, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. There wouldn’t even be the hope of a self-governing democracy of an Arab world in the Middle East. This ought to be a subject of negotiations between two sovereign powers.
But as Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) pointed out, Iraq’s surplus actually shows the failure of the Bush administration’s policies in holding the Iraqi government accountable, politically. “If we would have had our way we would have had a reasonable timetable for the redeployment of most of our troops which would have put pressure on the Iraqi government to do what they are not doing,” said Levin, “which is essential to end the conflict in Iraq and that is to work out a political settlement among themselves.” Watch it:
Paul Wolfowitz told the American people in 2003 that Iraq would be able to “finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon.” Five years later, the Bush administration continues to spend billions of U.S. taxpayer money instead. As Matt Duss noted at the Wonk Room, the administration has “committed tens of billions of American dollars to various Iraqi construction projects with no real plan for how all of it’s supposed to add up to a stable Iraqi state.”
Levin has also said that he is “seeking a provision in the defense authorization bill that would preclude spending U.S. funds on large-scale infrastructure projects in Iraq, defined as a those that exceed $2 million.” Today on CNN, Cornyn said he supported that measure.
LSB: If Iraq does have a surplus of $79 billion, why aren't they paying their share of rebuilding their country so my tax dollars can be used here at home? I thought the Iraqi oil money was going to pay for this damn war!