Cheney: $87B Won't Be Enough
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
September 15, 2003
Washington - Vice President Dick Cheney hinted yesterday that the Bush administration would seek more money next year than the additional $87 billion already requested to pay mainly for postwar costs in Iraq.
He also said the administration does not know when the U.S. military presence in Iraq will end. "I don't think anybody can say with absolute certainty at this point," Cheney said.
Amid a rising U.S. casualty count in Iraq and continuing attacks and other resistance, Democratic presidential candidates and others have said too little planning was done on how to rebuild the country and how to pay for it.
The White House says it will soon ask Congress to approve the $87 billion for military and reconstruction activities both in Iraq and in Afghanistan, with the bulk of it earmarked for Iraq.
Asked on NBC's "Meet the Press" if that would be the final such request, Cheney replied: "I can't say that. It's all we think we'll need for the foreseeable future, for this year."
On CBS' "Face the Nation," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld wouldn't go even that far. He said how long the $87 billion will last has not been determined.
"It's a process that's being handled by the president and the Office of Management and Budget," Rumsfeld said. "I think that after those consultations with Congress, we'll have the answer to your question."
Cheney defended the request. "What's the cost if we don't act? ... What's the cost if we don't succeed with respect to our current operation in Iraq?" he asked. "I think that's far higher than getting the job done right here."
Cheney said the occupation is seeing "major success, major progress." "We're well on our way to achieving our objectives," he said.
Most believe at least the military part of the $87 billion request will be approved, though lawmakers promise tough questions. "We need to support the troops, and we're going to support the troops. Exactly what amount that will take is a question that we've got to examine carefully," Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.), a Democratic presidential candidate, said on "Fox News Sunday."
Some Democrats have suggested that some of the recently enacted Bush-backed tax cuts be rolled back to help pay for the $87 billion, but Cheney rejected that. "I think it would be a mistake," he said. "You can't look at that without considering what its impact would be on the economy."
Appearing on CNN's "Late Edition," Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, derided such reasoning. "The idea that $87 billion out of over a trillion-dollar tax cut is going to set back the economy over 10 years; that is absolute malarkey," Biden said.