Freshman Congressman Tom Cotton of Arkansas downplayed the role that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had on the nation's debt Thursday morning, insisting that the overall impact is "relatively low."
Cotton spoke at a the "Too Many American Wars? Should We Fight Anywhere and Can We Afford It?" panel discussion at CPAC Thursday.
"Can we afford this war? The answer is yes, we can afford it,"Cotton said. "We must afford it. We certainly have a staggering national debt. Our military is not responsible for that. As an historic average of a percent of our economy and federal spending, it's still relatively low. It's projected to trend downward."
A report released Thursday leading up to the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq determined that that war alone has cost the U.S. $1.7 trillion dollars.
And as the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities outlined, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, when combined with the Bush tax cuts, will account for nearly $6 trillion in deficits over the decade beginning after Bush left office. That same analysis shows that the stimulus and recovery efforts, a common scapegoat for conservatives criticizing debt (including Cotton), are easily dwarfed by the military and tax spending.
Cotton has a background of military service, during his remarks he also described how the attacks of 9/11 inspired him to join the military, where he fought both in Afghanistan and Iraq.