Monday, October 4, 2010

Iraq Grows Wealthy

Iraq Racks Up Budget Surpluses While U.S. Debt Grows

Iraq has run annual budget surpluses each year since the United States invaded and ousted Saddam Hussein in 2003 — while the U.S. pumped more than half a trillion dollars into Iraq and ran deficits in every one of those years.

In the 6-year period from 2004 through 2009, the Iraqi government amassed a surplus of $52.1 billion, with up to 92.1 percent of its revenues coming from oil exports, according to an audit by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

During that same period, deficits in six consecutive years boosted the overall U.S. national debt from $6.9 trillion to $12.3 trillion.

Part of that increased debt can be attributed to the $624 billion the U.S. has spent fighting the war to overthrow the Iraqi regime and help the Iraqis set up a democratic government, the GAO observed.

Despite Iraq’s surpluses, on July 29 the U.S. Congress approved $1 billion in “emergency” aid to the Iraqi government, and President Barack Obama is seeking another $2 billion in his fiscal 2011 budget, CNSNews reported.

The GAO also disclosed that the Iraqi government held as much as $32.2 billion in cash on deposit at banks and financial institutions.

“GAO believes that Congress should consider Iraq’s available financial resources when it reviews the administration’s fiscal 2011 budget request and other potential future budget requests for additional funds to train and equip Iraqi security forces,” the GAO stated in its audit report.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, America’s budget deficit exceeded $1.3 trillion for fiscal 2010, which ended Sept. 30 — the second greatest deficit as a percentage of GDP since World War II.

The greatest? The previous year’s $1.4 trillion deficit.

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