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Why Are U.S. Taxpayers Funding Reconstruction While Iraq Reaps Oil Profits?

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At a time when American families are feeling an economic squeeze in large part because we are paying so much for foreign oil, we are also paying billions of dollars in Iraq -- even though Iraq is flush with soaring oil profits.

A new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) detailing expenditures and revenues of the Government of Iraq estimates that Iraq will generate up to $86 billion this year from oil revenues, primarily driven by the high price of oil being paid by Americans and others. But, strikingly, Iraq is likely to only spend a fraction of its revenues this year and is allowing U.S. taxpayers to foot the bill for rebuilding Iraq.

This report reminds us of the significant failures of the Bush administration's Iraq policy. Only when we set a timeline for the redeployment of our troops and military contractors from Iraq will Iraqis be forced to take responsibility for their own country. Instead of continuing to spend $10 billion every month on the war while Iraq pockets huge oil revenues, we should end the War in Iraq and bring our troops home to their families.

The Bush administration's Iraq policy has already imposed significant costs for Americans. In fact, U.S. taxpayers have spent over $600 billion in Iraq, including about $48 billion for stabilization and reconstruction activities. According to the GAO report, the Iraqi government has generated over $90 billion in sales of crude oil from 2005 to 2007 and will generate close to that amount in 2008 alone.

The Government of Iraq's failure to adequately invest in its own population and infrastructure is a direct byproduct of President Bush's failed strategy in Iraq. An American military occupation has not created meaningful political progress, and the Government of Iraq has allowed U.S. taxpayers to foot the bill for rebuilding Iraq.

While America's troops have made sacrifices, Iraq's politicians have not fulfilled their responsibilities, and the Bush administration has not held them accountable. It is little surprise that Iraq has neglected to adequately invest its massive oil revenues when the United States continues to shoulder the burden.

Rep. Maxine Waters (CA-35) is Chair and Cofounder of the Out of Iraq Caucus.

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