A new study recently released by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments has found that the direct cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could reach as high as $1.7 trillion by 2018, despite forecasts of American disengagement from Iraq. But according to the report, the White House has “fudged the war’s true costs” by borrowing rather than funding the wars through the appropriations process:
The report also rapped the Bush administration’s paying for the wars through borrowing, rather than tax increases and spending cuts. That approach, it concluded, will lead to interest costs through 2018 that range from about $70 billion to as high as about $700 billion, depending on how much of the war funding came through bond sales.
“If you want to go to war…we should probably pay for more of that war upfront rather than borrowing for it,” [defense budget expert and report author Steven] Kosiak said, because the public feels more of the war’s real burden through tax increases and spending cuts.
Time notes that “[p]revious wars were funded through the annual appropriations process, with emergency spending — which gets far less congressional scrutiny — only used for the initial stages of a conflict. But the Bush Administration relied on such supplemental appropriations to fund the wars” throughout both conflicts thus far.