[Last update: 20 September 2002]

The Costs of War

by Rep. Llloyd Doggett

Congressional Record



The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Doggett) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. Doggett. Members of Congress must thoughtfully reflect on their neighbors' concerns and not serve as a mere speed bump on a fast road to war. This Administration has failed to provide evidence to us here in the Congress, either secretly or publicly, that Saddam Hussein, a despicable dictator, represents an imminent threat to Americans, that he had a role in the tragedy of 911, or is in any way directly linked to the al Qaeda terrorist network, or that his danger to the world has significantly changed since 911. If such evidence exists, the President should come forward and ask for a declaration of war. Instead, the President has today submitted to the Congress the draft of a sweeping resolution that would, if approved and implemented fully by the Administration, commit thousands to death and extract billions from the pockets of American taxpayers.

It is interesting to contrast this resolution with that enacted in August of 1964 upon which the Vietnam War was fought, the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. At minimum, this Congress would do well to narrow the President's request today to the overly expansive language of the Gulf of Tonkin, which did at least limit the Commander in Chief ``to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.'' The resolution also provided that we would react if a member state of a particular defense treaty of which we were a member was ``requesting assistance in defense of its own freedom.'' President Bush is seeking much, much greater authority than the Gulf of Tonkin resolution.

I believe that it is very important for Americans to realize that launching a war against Saddam Hussein, despot that he is, will entail costs far beyond the battlefield. In addition to questioning why young Americans will be almost alone to die in order to win this war, there will be extraordinary costs that will touch the lives of every family in America_costs that will certainly require reaching into the pocket of every taxpayer in this country.

[page 1615]

This week on the front page of no less a publication than the Wall Street Journal, President Bush's top economic adviser, Lawrence Lindsey, estimated that the cost of waging this war in which this Nation is about to embark may rise as high as $200 billion. That is ``billion'' with a ``B''. That is billions that take away the hopes and dreams of so many of us for the opportunities that this country could afford. That is $200 billion with a ``B'' that could be available to ensure a life of dignity for many older Americans; and provide economic security, healthcare, prescription drugs, and strengthen Social Security for our baby boomers. That is billion with a ``B'' that will not be available to assure the educational hopes and opportunities of a generation of young Americans. It is billions with a ``B'' that will be spent on war in Iraq, instead of being spent to address our many other types of security needs here at home.

The $200 billion estimate, as high as it is, may be misleadingly low. We do not know whether this includes the prolonged occupation of Iraq and all of the associated costs, which Vice President Cheney has admitted are an essential part of this war; the rebuilding of Iraq, installing a new regime, wherever that might come from, as well as, of course, the much higher prices all of us can expect to pay as a result of increases in the price of oil.

According to the same Wall Street Journal article, other Administration economists say their main fear is that an Iraq war could lead to a sustained spike in [oil] prices. This estimate also does not include the cost of the war widening if, for example one of our few allies decides to become involved, and as a result other oil suppliers no longer supply that oil and there is additional regional conflict. ``Whatever the bottom line,'' the Wall Street Journal reports, ``the war's cost would be significant enough to make it harder'', much harder, ``for the Bush Administration to climb out of the budget deficit hole,'' which, I would add, grows deeper and deeper.

So I would urge our colleagues to review this resolution very closely, offer their ideas, informed by their constituencies, and seek to work with President Bush to bring us together in favor of effective international arms inspection, instead of leading us into a war that cannot be justified based on present evidence.

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