Free Markets, Free People

Destroying “the Iraq war caused the huge deficits” meme

Democrats are particularly fond of that meme because it provides them the opportunity to again shift the blame for something on their arch enemy, George Bush. It is also a convenient way to claim they’re blameless for all of these trillions of dollars in deficit spending that has taken place over the years.

But a funny thing happened on the way to using this convincingly. The real numbers simply don’t support it. In fact, they show us something a lot more believable to be the cause of our new and huge deficits. And it is certainly not anything the Democrats want associated with them.

Randall Hoven at American Thinker does an excellent job of dismantling the myth that the Iraq War and George Bush’s decision to prosecute the war (with the permission of Congress – to include almost every Democrat) are the reason we’re suffering these huge deficits today. And he uses the CBO’s numbers and the Federal government’s own budget figuress to prove that it wasn’t Iraq that put us in the poor house, but the Democrats.

Take a look at this chart:


According to the CBO’s numbers, the Iraq war has cost $709 billion. Not the wild estimates by some on the left (to include the absurd claims by James Carville and others that the war cost $3 trillion). And look carefully at the added cost of the war on top of the federal deficit spending shown in red.

Notice anything? Now think back – who was in charge of Congress from 2003 – 2007? And what was the trend in overall deficit spending – including the cost of the Iraq war – through 2007. Any impartial observer would point out the trend was downward. The party in charge of Congress at the time was the GOP.

Who took over the Congress in 2008? And what has happened to deficit spending since? Certainly the cost of Iraq has increased the deficit somewhat, but in comparison to the deficit spending since the Democratic Congress has been in session it pales in comparison.

And now, that war is essentially over and we’ve pulled the last combat brigade out, costs will certainly come down and eventually be quite small. But the trillion dollar yearly deficits – the Obama budget for 2011 is $1.4 trillion dollars – aren’t coming down at all, are they?

Be sure to read Hoven’s piece – he shows his work and provides a powerful tool to debunk the left’s “Iraq is why we have a huge deficit” canard. It has, instead, been the spending of the Democrats in Congress. Hoven’s work easily puts lie to the Democrat’s attempt to once again shift the blame for their own profligacy on to George Bush and the Iraq war.



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20 Responses to Destroying “the Iraq war caused the huge deficits” meme

  • Eh.  The left will ignore this, as they do anything else that runs contrary to their cherished beliefs

    • More likely, they’ll lie around it, under it, over it…or redefine terms like “war”, “insurgency”, and “occupation”.
      Still, it is a WONDERFUL graphic for anyone with any brains.

    • Ronald Reagan…Republican spending….deficits….Obama has reduced deficitmust reduce the deficitwill reduce the deficit
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    • The left just might hijack the thread as was done at Flopping Aces.  Starting with claiming the $3 trillion figure includes all the future medical care our troops will need, replacing equipment, etc.    Then  they quickly started the hijack  by comparing Obama with the Keynesian Ronald Reagan, GHW and GW Bush, many comments later it’s now  the Sub-prime mortgage crisis.  No opinions offered regarding what may have caused the spike in the chart, and of course they feel they adequately explained away Hoven’s  low Iraq War costs.

  • “Who took over the Congress in 2008?” Actually the Democrats took over Congress in the Nov 2006 election and took power Jan 2007. The FY 2007 budget ran from Oct 2006 – Sep 2007, which is the 2007 bar in your chart (lowest of the 8 bars). Then the new Congress made its mark…

  • Good info to have handy. Be sure to read Hoven’s update ( as well. That said, this does cut both ways, as many Republicans (including Bush) have used the War on Terror as an excuse/explanation for why the deficit grew so large during his terms.

  • Oh dear, your buddies at Cato would beg to differ.

    • That Cato article was doing well until it got to the “subjective aspects to this estimate” part. If Obama can’t be blamed for spending that “Bush would surely have asked for that as well,” then why should Bush be blamed for spending that Obama would surely have asked for? It undercuts his previous point about minding who was actually sitting in the Oval Office when the spending was authorized.

    • Gee Tom, just because they’re Cato doesn’t make them right every time – unless, of course, you believe them to be.

      Do you?

    • Bush did not sign the 2009 budget. While FY 2009 began in Oct 2008, the Democrats withheld the 2009 budget until Obama was in office, and Obama signed it.

    • Actually, the post was about Iraq spending v. overall spending, so CATO didn’t differ at all. CATO just points out exactly what McQ posted – deficits exploded once Democrats took over Congress.

      If you want to ignore Congress’ role in the budget and accept the chart as-is, Bush’s worst year is almost as bad as Obama’s first year (with the Obama add-ons adding at least 10% to that deficit). But Bush’s second worst year is better than Obama’s best year.  Every single budget under Obama is worse than the first seven years from Bush.

  • As soon as I read this I knew the article would be rabid right wing propaganda using slanted stats:
    “Bush’s decision to prosecute the war (with the permission of Congress – to include almost every Democrat) are the reason we’re suffering these huge deficits today.”
    Since it was Bush who lied about WMDs in the first place don’t blame the Democrats for U.S. involvement in Iraq. After reading the CATO article it is easy to see that QANDO is following the Bush’s tradition of  lying.

    • You need to look up the word “lie”. You obviously aren’t conversant with its actual meaning. Take a look at what Bill and Hillary Clinton said about the intel concerning WMD at the time of the decision.

      Secondly, WMD was only one of many reasons that Congress (to include almost every Democrat as noted) decided to give its permission. You should know that.

      You, otoh, if you know this (and you should) are the one pushing a lie.