The Democrats, who took control of the U.S. Congress in January 2007, now have spent more money on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars than the Republican-controlled Congress before them.
As this calendar year began, the Democrats had spent about $350.5 billion on the Iraq war, surpassing the $348.7 billion the Republican Congress approved for Iraq from 2003 through 2006, according to figures in a 2009 Congressional Research Service report and recent appropriations bills.
By the end of this month, the Democratic Congress will have spent $366 billion on the Iraq war, 5 percent more than the Republican total.
Iraq success. Though often unenthusiastic (Sen. Harry Reid declared “This war is lost” on April 19, 2007), the Democrats’ financial support for President Bush’s 2007-08 Iraq “surge” and for President Obama’s military follow-up in Iraq has proved successful. Iraq is building a democracy to replace Saddam Hussein’s toppled dictatorship.
Meanwhile, on the war in Afghanistan, the Democratic Congress has appropriated more than double what the Republican Congress spent there.
Here are the numbers:
Afghanistan under Republican Congress:
2002: $10.4 billion.*
2003: $14.7 billion.
2004: $14.5 billion.
2005: $20 billion.
2006: $19 billion.
2007: $9.8 billion.**
GOP AFGHAN TOTAL: $88.4 billion.
Afghanistan under Democratic Congress:
2002: $10.4 billion.*
2007: $29.3 billion.**
2008: $43.4 billion.
2009: $55.2 billion.
2010: $105 billion projected.
DEMS AFGHAN TOTAL: $243.3 billion (through 2010).
Iraq war under Republican Congress:
2003: $53 billion.
2004: $75.9 billion.
2005: $85.5 billion.
2006: $101.6 billion.
2007 $32.7 billion.**
GOP IRAQ TOTAL: $348.7 billion.
Iraq war under Democratic Congress:
2007: $98.1 billion.**
2008: $141.1 billion.
2009: $94.8 billion.
2010: $65.1 billion.
DEMS IRAQ TOTAL: $399.1 billion (through 2010).
In this chart, each year is the congressional fiscal year running from October through the following September. Each fiscal year is named for the calender year in which the fiscal year ends.
*The Senate was in Democratic hands for the second half of 2001 and all of 2002 while the House of Representatives was in Republican control. The split is reflected by dividing the $20.8 billion spent in 2002 for the war in Afghanistan -- half in the Republican column and half in the Democratic column.
** 2007 spending is pro-rated for the transition from a Republican to a Democratic Congress -- three months' worth under the Republicans and nine months under the Democrats.
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Afghanistan emphasis. From January 2007 through June 2010, the Democrats spent $206.6 billion on the Afghanistan war. Half of 2002’s $20.8 billion in Afghan war spending also is attributed to the Democrats, who controlled the Senate in 2002. That adds up to $217 billion in Democratic Afghan-war spending until the end of this month. By the end of this fiscal year 2010, the Democratic total for Afghanistan is expected to total $243.3 billion.
From 2002 through 2006, the Republicans spent $88.4 billion on Afghanistan military operations (including the Republicans’ share of 2002 spending).
At this point, it’s difficult to say whether the Democrats’ new emphasis on Afghanistan will be successful in defeating the radicalized Islamists and preserving that nation's first democracy. Victory depends largely on establishing security in Afghanistan, on winning battles inside neighboring Pakistan, and on resolve.
In Iraq, American deaths have dropped sharply since the 2007-08 “surge.” In Afghanistan, U.S. casualties are on the rise. The 1,126 U.S. death total in Afghanistan (768 under a Democratic Congress) is one quarter of the 4,407 Americans lost in Iraq (3,003 under a Republican Congress).
The time balance. The Democrats have had continuous control of Congress for three and a half years, that is, since Nancy Pelosi was handed the House Speaker’s gavel on Jan. 4, 2007.
On Oct. 22, 2010, the Democratic Congress will have had responsibility for the Iraq war for three years and 10 months -- exactly as long as the Republicans controlled the purse strings on Iraq.
In each of the two wars, success often has seemed the project of one party to the exclusion of the other. But the defense spending numbers since 2001 reveal that both parties have had a major role in pursuing victory on both fronts.
On many levels, America’s fight against tyrants and terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq has had bipartisan support.