Los Angeles Times
July 14, 2006
WASHINGTON — The war in Iraq has cost $291 billion so far and would total almost half a trillion dollars even if all U.S. troops were withdrawn by the end of 2009, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis released Thursday.
The nonpartisan CBO analysis comes after congressional debate over whether to set goals or timetables for U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq. Congress declined to set a timetable, but the Pentagon hopes to start drawing down forces by the end of the year.
The CBO study estimated future appropriations based on two scenarios provided by Rep. John Spratt Jr. (D-S.C.), who commissioned the report.
The more optimistic scenario is based on the U.S. maintaining troop levels in Iraq at 140,000 through next year, but quickly dropping them thereafter and pulling out most of them by the end of 2009. Under this schedule, the Iraq war would cost an additional $184 billion for the 2007-2010 budget years.
Under a more pessimistic scenario, with a slower drawdown of troops and a continued U.S. presence of 40,000 over the long term, the Iraq war would cost $406 billion over the next decade, the CBO said.
Costs far exceed early estimates. Former White House economic advisor Lawrence Lindsey initially predicted that the war could cost $100 billion to $200 billion. Other administration officials dismissed the figure as too high, and Lindsey was fired.