Penny-Wise, War-Foolish

The Real Cost of Presidential Obstruction On Human Needs


President Bush wants to veto spending sought by Congress on important national priorities. The fight is over appropriations bills that cover a wide range of essential services. Bush acts as if he wants to protect the budget, but the facts are otherwise. The amounts in question are modest — especially when compared to the amount of money the administration recklesly spends on the misbegotten war in Iraq. Here are some examples from budget bills President Bush threatened to veto.

President Bush has threatened to veto

bills that would:
What the items

would cost
How long it takes to spend that on the Iraq War
Help economically distressed communities by providing investment incentives to banks (HR 2829) $70 million
Less than 6 hours
Increase military pay an extra 0.5 percent for the next five years (S 1547) $2.2 billion over 5 years
7 days
Help poor people pay for record-high home-heating costs in the winter (HR 3043) $880 million
About 2 and a half days
Increase the funding health clinics can use to better prepare for a bioterrorist attack (HR 3043) $135 million increase 11 hours
Upgrade voting systems nationwide, eliminating the “hanging chads” of the 2000 election (HR 2829) $300 million
One day
Support entrepreneurs starting their own business through the Small Business Administration (HR 2829) $80 million
6 hours and 30 minutes
Provide disaster relief for flood, earthquake, fire and other victims of natural disasters (HR 2638) $2.1 billion
One week
Fund Amtrak and fuel-efficient mass transit (HR 3074) $1.4 billion
Less than 5 days
Provide Community Development Block Grants that expand economic opportunities for low- and moderate-income persons (HR 3074) $1 billion
3 days
Provide food over the next five years for lower-income children in summer programs, when school breakfast and lunch programs end (HR 3161) $29 million over 5 years
2 hours and 15 minutes

Repair the nation’s bridges, dams, coasts and waterways through the Corps of Engineers Civil Works Program

(HR 2641)

$713 million
57 hours
(2 days, 9 hours)
Fund environmental protection (HR 2643) $887 million
Less than 3 days


For more on the cost of the Iraq war, see “The Real Cost of the Iraq War.”