Waxman: U.S. Consumers ‘Fueling’ Iraq Budget Surplus « The Washington Independent
Following Tuesday’s ugly GAO report that revealed Iraq doesn’t spend its oil money on reconstruction, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) told Condoleezza Rice in a letter (pdf) that the U.S. can’t keep providing the cash for rebuilding.
The letter cites a new Department of Energy report that says U.S. consumers will spend about $70 billion this year on oil exported from Iraq, approximately the same amount the GAO estimates Iraq’s 2008 budget surplus could climb to.
But as the GAO found, instead of going toward rebuilding the country, this huge surplus goes into accounts in various banks. The Iraqi government has spent less than $1 billion in the past year on training or weapons for security forces and infrastructure projects like electric grids and running water.
Meanwhile, the U.S. has spent $48 billion building infrastructure in Iraq and trying to establish and maintain the country’s security. So Waxman is arguing that the U.S. taxpayer is paying the Iraqi government twice: once when they pay for gas and again when they pay their taxes.
As the New York Times reminded us yesterday, Paul Wolfowitz promised in 2003 that Iraq oil money would finance the rebuilding. Five years later, it seems we might be at a point where this finally, sort of makes sense. But it will require a significant a shift in the roles played by both the U.S. State Department and Pentagon, as well as the Iraqi ministries.