News Release

The Economic Toll: War in Iraq and Disaster in New Orleans

FRANCES FOX PIVEN
Author of the book The War at Home: The Domestic Costs of Bush’s Militarism, Piven is distinguished professor of political science and sociology at the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York. Her past books include The Breaking of the American Social Compact.
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ERIK LEAVER
Co-author of the recently-released report “The Iraq Quagmire: The Mounting Costs of War and the Case for Bringing Home the Troops,” Leaver is a research fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. He said today: “We’ve already spent $280 billion, an additional $50 billion pending, and now we’re going to be shouldering an estimated $200 billion in the wake of Katrina.”

A recent New York Times/CBS poll found 44 percent saying the U.S. “did the right thing in taking action against Iraq,” 50 percent saying it did not. Over 80 percent are at least “somewhat concerned” about the money and resources the war is costing; 53 percent are “very concerned.”
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PRATAP CHATTERJEE
Project director of CorpWatch, Chatterjee is author of the book Iraq, Inc.: A Profitable Occupation and of the recent article “Lost Levees and Budget Boondoggles.” He said today: “Earlier this year, [the] New Orleans district projected that it would get just $82 million in flood and hurricane protection projects, a 44.2 percent drop from the $147 million spent in 2001.”

[Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune, on June 8, 2004: “It appears that the money has been moved in the president’s budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that’s the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can’t be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us.” Also, see Maestri’s interview on “Now with Bill Moyers” from 2002.]

Chatterjee added: “The same people at the Army Corps of Engineers, who oversaw the no-bid contracts and the failed reconstruction in Iraq, are the very men who are in charge of the Gulf states today — and they are giving the contracts to the same companies in much the same manner.”
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ANTONIA JUHASZ
Juhasz is author of the forthcoming book The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time. She said today: “The very same Bush administration-allied corporations that are reaping staggering profits in Iraq have been awarded new, uncompetitivly bid and virtually regulation-free contracts in the U.S. Gulf. These corporations, including Halliburton, Bechtel, Shaw Group and Fluor, have failed to meet their contractual obligations in Iraq where, in spite of billions of dollars already paid out from Iraqi and American citizens, the country is still experiencing water, electricity, sewage and health care services below pre-war levels.”
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GREG LEROY
Director of Good Jobs First, LeRoy said today: “The survivors of Hurricane Katrina deserve better than a knee-jerk raft of tax breaks for big businesses that will ultimately shift the tax burden to small businesses and working families.” LeRoy is author of the new book The Great American Jobs Scam.
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BETTINA DAMIANI
Director of Good Jobs New York, which has monitored post-9/11 reconstruction monies through its Reconstruction Watch project, Damiani said today: “After 9/11, rules that normally restrict federal funding to primarily benefit low- and moderate-income communities were stripped out, so that the money could legally go to large businesses and wealthy neighborhoods.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167