If the government is so strapped for cash in this time of war, they might want to try tracking down the 363 tons of American currency they shipped to Iraq in 2004 and promptly lost:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Reserve sent record payouts of more than $4 billion in cash to Baghdad on giant pallets aboard military planes shortly before the United States gave control back to Iraqis, lawmakers said on Tuesday.
Bills weighing a total of 363 tons were loaded onto military aircraft in the largest cash shipments ever made by the Federal Reserve, said Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
In all, a total of $8.8 billion (that's billion, with a b) is unaccounted for after being given to the Iraqis.
But that's not important now. What's important right now is... well... something else, anyway.
Republicans argued that Bremer and the CPA staff did the best they could under the circumstances and accused Democrats of trying to score political points over the increasingly unpopular Iraq war.
"We are in a war against terrorists, to have a blame meeting isn't, in my opinion, constructive," said Rep. Dan Burton, an Indiana Republican.
But what does $8.8 billion mean in real dollars?
- It could restore Bush's proposed funding cuts for Homeland Security 17 times.
- It could restore Bush's proposed cut in preventive health services to prevent obesity and other chronic conditions 88 times.
- It could buy 36,800 lawyers for Bush to defend himself against legal challenges from Gitmo detainees who have been wrongful held.
- It could restore 11 percent of Bush's proposed Medicare and Medicaid cuts over the next five years.
- It could restore Bush's proposed funding cuts to the Children's Health Insurance Program 39 times, his proposed cuts to Head Start 88 times, his proposed cuts to the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program 22 times, or his proposed cut in funding for housing for low-income seniors 51 times.
So while a "blame meeting" might not be the most constructive activity in the world, a meeting to discover where the hell 726,000 pounds of American currency might have buggered off to could be, in fact, rather productive indeed.
Ladies and gentlemen, your United States government.