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Fox News Tries To Present Iraq War As A Bargain Compared To Stimulus

Reported by Ellen - September 2, 2010 -

Co-authored by Brian

OK, Neil Cavuto didn’t actually call the Iraq war a bargain but he certainly compared it favorably to the stimulus with a questionable chart showing the cost of the war as $709 billion compared to the stimulus cost of $862 billion. It was a neat little twofer for the GOP: Make Obama’s spending look bad (more than the costs of a 7 ½ year war!), and suggest that President George W. Bush ran a tight or at least a tighter ship (Never mind the millions of dollars missing and the billions wasted. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that chart!).

Cavuto introduced the segment on Tuesday’s Your World (8/31/10) by displaying the chart and saying, “Guess what? After six and a half years (sic), the war in Iraq is actually costing less than this president’s stimulus.” The same chart seems to have been recycled by Fox & Friends the next day. But as Media Matters noted, the $709 billion does not include costs in Iraq beyond 2010. The CBO estimates the war will likely cost another $156 billion by 2014. Furthermore, the $862 billion seems based on a CBO estimate in January that was revised to $814 billion in July. That puts the cost of the Iraq war ahead of the stimulus.

Not surprisingly, neither Cavuto – who gushed, “It’s amazing!” - nor his guest, the stimulus-hating Dave Ramsey set the record straight..

Instead, Ramsey moved on to attack the stimulus. "You know, I’m still waiting to feel stimulated. I’ve just not been… You know, looking around in the economy, I am out here walking around in it every day. I live in middle America… I run a small business. I interact with businesspeople all over America, and I have yet to see anybody hugely impacted by a government freaking program."

As USA Today reported, the stimulus added $400 billion to GDP, as well as 2.5-3.6 million jobs. That’s a White House estimate backed up by a slew of independent economists. Funny how “middle America” Ramsey can’t find any of those people being put back to work by the stimulus.

Cavuto said, "OK, but you don’t buy the notion that things could be a lot worse if the government and stimulus wasn't what it was and did?"

"Well, it’s a fiddle I’ve played on here before," Ramsey said. "So, the question is, do you believe that Keynesian economics, which is that the government gets involved with deficit spending to drive the economy, actually works? And I am convinced Congress is a bunch of Oompa-Loompas running around the edge of a forest fire with squirt guns trying to put it out. I think they need to back off and let this thing burn its way through… Stimulate all you want, it’s not working… They have frozen the economy in its tracks while they are purporting to stimulate it. So it's really pretty absurd."

However, Ramsey did question the chart's comparison of the cost of the war with the stimulus. “I’m not sure what one of these numbers has to do with the other one, really, except that they’re both very large numbers.”

Cavuto said the question was, "Which got you more bang for the buck? Which delivered results?"

Ramsey laughed at the unintentional pun. "I think one of them is an ideological thing of whether we needed to invade Iraq… and the other is whether or not you believe you pour money from the taxpayers’ coffers and from a debt balance sheet into the economy, and then non-stimulate the economy."

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