Two and a half years into the Obama presidency, why does the economy still sputter?
The first and most popular line of defense, of course, remains to blame it on the George W. Bush administration.
Pundits like CNN's Fareed Zakaria falsely attribute the current $1.5 trillion deficit to the "Bush tax cuts," while Obama puts the "cost" at $70 billion a year. MSNBC's Ed Schultz asserts that "98 percent of you" were not affected by the cuts, an odd argument considering that Obama supports extending the Bush-era rates for the very 98 percent that Schultz claims received no benefit.
Others blame the "costly" wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But the average annual cost of the wars -- as well as the "cost" of the Bush tax cuts for the rich -- come to no more than 20 percent or so of the deficit.
When considering the "cost" of the Iraq War, critics never compare it to the "cost" of another 9/11 or worse. The New York Times recently tried to put a price on 9/11 and our response: "In a survey of estimates by The New York Times, the answer is $3.3 trillion, or about $7 million for every dollar al-Qaida spent planning and executing the attacks. While not all of the costs have been borne by the government -- and some are still to come -- this total equals one-fifth of the current national debt."
Did Iraq play a major role in the lack -- so far -- of another successful attack on U.S. soil? Ask al-Qaida.
Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, the new al-Qaida leader after the killing of bin Laden, both called Iraq the "front line" in the battle against the infidels. Bin Laden, in 2004, made this quite clear: "The issue is big and the misfortune is momentous. ... The world's millstone and pillar is in Baghdad, the capital of the caliphate. ... The whole world is watching this war and the two adversaries; the Islamic nation, on the one hand, and the United States and its allies on the other. It is either victory and glory or misery and humiliation."
Retired Gen. Tommy Franks, the commander in charge of the Iraq invasion, said: "The Global War on Terrorism will be a long fight. But make no mistake, we are going to fight the terrorists. The question is do we fight them over there -- or do we fight them here. I choose to fight them over there."