Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A libertarian economist reviews Stiglitz's book on the cost of the Iraq War

Fred Foldvary, libertarian economist has a few kind words for Joseph Stiglitz's The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict. Here's a telling passage:
Another factor distracting the public away from understanding the direct cost of the war is that the military operations have been almost entirely funded via a series of “emergency” supplemental spending bills totaling in the hundreds of billions. This budget gimmick makes it possible to avoid painful budget choices since “emergency spending” is exempt from the budget caps designed to set an upper limit on government spending.

The professional budget staff in Congress is therefore unable to do its usual thorough review of the numbers, and there has been little Congressional oversight, since emergency spending takes place mainly outside of the regular budget process. Congress is not blameless in this process, as it has used the war to attach special and local interest spending to war bills with minimal scrutiny, despite the legal requirement to separate war spending from regular defense appropriations. The corruption is spread throughout the government.

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