THE COST OF THE WAR….Here’s the headline on the Washington Post’s home page:

Up to $70B More Sought To Rebuild, Secure Iraq

And here’s the headline above the story itself:

Bush to Seek $60 Billion or More for Iraq

So which is it?

The White House has informed congressional leaders that it is preparing a new budget request for between $60 billion and $70 billion to help cover the mounting costs of the reconstruction and military occupation of Iraq, sources on Capitol Hill said last night.

The copy desk at the Post must have been feeling schizophrenic tonight.

I suppose this is good news in one way: combined with yesterday’s approach to the UN it indicates that the administration is beginning to realize the true scope of the problem in Iraq. On the other hand, be sure to read the fine print:

Congressional aides said the White House is discussing a variety of breakdowns for the spending. But one proposal would allocate about $55 billion for the Pentagon and $10 billion for reconstruction. Most of the money would be designated for Iraq, and a small part for Afghanistan.

I’m a little unsure of why the Pentagon budget is so high and the reconstruction budget so low, but I guess I’ll wait to see more details before I comment any further. One note, though: when you add this to the cost of the war itself plus the postwar costs already incurred, it looks to me like the 12-month cost of Gulf War II is going to net out to about $100 billion. That’s 10% of the total amount raised via personal income taxes each year.

I have to wonder how broad support for the war would have been if every household had been asked to pay a 10% income tax surcharge to cover the cost?

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