USA Today erroneously suggested that federal spending on Iraq war, tsunami relief have comparable impact on deficit

››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

In an August 5 article titled "Congress' Spending Draws Fire," USA Today cited an independent study to falsely suggest that spending on the war in Iraq and on tsunami relief have had comparable effects on the projected 2006 federal budget deficit. In fact, the $82 billion emergency war spending bill passed earlier this year set aside nearly $76 billion for military spending, primarily for the war in Iraq, and included only $660 million for tsunami relief -- about half the funding allocated to build a new U.S. embassy in Iraq.

From USA Today, which cited a report by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget to suggest that heightened deficit spending is being "fuel[ed]" by "the war in Iraq and emergency aid for victims of last December's tsunami in the Indian Ocean":

Legislation passed by Congress this year will add $35 billion to next year's budget deficit and $115 billion through 2010, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a non-partisan watchdog group.

Fueling the spending is the war in Iraq and emergency aid for victims of last December's tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Last week, lawmakers added billions more in energy, highway and veterans health care funding.

But neither USA Today nor the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which noted that the $82.6 billion "Defense/tsunami supplemental" will contribute $35 billion to the fiscal year 2006 deficit, mentioned that only a small fraction of deficit spending in the bill is the result of tsunami relief efforts. The Washington Post reported on May 11:

The bill provides the Defense Department nearly $76 billion on top of $25 billion already appropriated mainly for Iraq for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. It also contains $5 billion for foreign policy efforts, including $1.28 billion to construct and operate a U.S. embassy in Baghdad that will be among the world's largest, $660 million for tsunami relief, $200 million for aid to the Palestinians, and $370 million in relief for the conflicts in Sudan.

According to its website, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget is a "bipartisan, non-profit organization committed to educating the public about issues that have significant fiscal policy impact."

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.