Support Marketplace

Obama will be open about war spending

TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: This week, the House is hoping to pass a massive Pentagon spending bill. President Obama's promised not to hide the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And how's he doing? We asked reporter Brett Neely to find out.


Brett Neely: This Pentagon bill includes $130 billion for the two wars. American University professor Gordon Adams gives the accounting for those conflicts the thumbs up.

Gordon Adams: The war costs really are the war cost, and not other stuff that you couldn't get, a kind of free lunch.

Under the Bush administration, the war budget was never properly estimated. Instead, the Pentagon would regularly request emergency supplemental help and lard that with money for unrelated projects. But the Afghan surge has thrown the administration's efforts to fix the process off track.

Todd Harrison is with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments:

Todd Harrison: The reality is they're now going to have come back and ask for a supplemental one more time.

The administration estimates the surge might cost an extra $30 billion. Gordon Adams thinks that may be low.

Adams" My guess is it's going to cost more than $30 [billion]; it may even cost more than $40 [billion].

The danger with a supplemental request, he says, is that history could repeat itself. The bill could get stuffed with goodies that don't belong there.

In Washington, I'm Brett Neely for Marketplace.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...