Among the many reasons that I find it so difficult to take Republicans’ claims about being serious deficit hawks, ah, well, seriously is that they were such profligate spenders during the Bush years. The Iraq war wasn’t just a war of choice against people who didn’t attack us, but it was also a gigantically wasteful enterprise, wherein the Pentagon poured money out endlessly without any care for where it went. There were reports of huge bundles of cash disappearing in the night, with no idea who got it. It might have gone to our enemies.
Consider this story from the AP:
A U.S. audit has found that the Pentagon cannot account for over 95 percent of $9.1 billion in Iraq reconstruction money, spotlighting Iraqi complaints that there is little to show for the massive funds pumped into their cash-strapped, war-ravaged nation.
The $8.7 billion in question was Iraqi money managed by the Pentagon, not part of the $53 billion that Congress has allocated for rebuilding. It’s cash that Iraq, which relies on volatile oil revenues to fuel its spending, can ill afford to lose.
“Iraq should take legal action to get back this huge amount of money,” said Sabah al-Saedi, chairman of the Parliamentary Integrity Committee. The money “should be spent for rebuilding the country and providing services for this poor nation.”
The report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction accused the Defense Department of lax oversight and weak controls, though not fraud.
I’m betting that you haven’t heard much about that report. Now try to imagine if the same $8.7 billion had been given to a group or program that served the poor and had been similarly squandered. Can you imagine the reaction from Fox News? John Boehner?