Reality Check: The president is wrong about being able to use "savings" from the Iraq War

(FOX19) - During his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Obama suggested investing in high speed rail and the nations decaying infrastructure.

He said he is ready to do his part. So is Congress?

"In the next few weeks, I will sign an executive order clearing away the red tape that slows down too many construction projects, but you need to fund these projects," said President Obama.

So let's get this straight. The President is ready for high speed rail, high speed broadband across the nation, and to fix crumbling roads and bridges.

He'll sign an executive order to get it done, but Congress has to do its part.

The President told Congress to "Take the money we're no longer spending at war and use half of it to pay down our debt and use the rest to do some nation building right here at home."

But there is one major question here. What money is he talking about?

The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates the country needs to invest roughly $220 billion annually to maintain the country's infrastructure in "minimum tolerable conditions."

So how much money  will we save by ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated savings from the wars would result in "about $440 billion less."  That is based on the idea that we would not be fighting wars in either country from 2012 to 2021.

So it sounds like under the President's math, if you take the $440 billion that we won't be spending in Iraq or Afghanistan and cut it in half, $220 billion can be used to cover our infrastructure needs.

Which means the other $220 billion will help pay down our $16 trillion debt.

Let me give you some basic math. The U.S. took in about $2.3 trillion dollars for the fiscal year 2011.  The Feds spent around $3.6 trillion dollars.  That is a difference of $1.3 trillion dollars in deficit spending.

Which means with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, at $440 billion, are only one-third of the money spent last year that we didn't have.

Where did the $1.3 trillion dollars come from that we spent last year but didn't collect in tax revenue?  It's borrowed money from China.

In 2011, the war in Afghanistan alone cost over $122 billion. It doesn't look like it is coming to an end any time soon.

While the war in Iraq is reportedly over, we still have a $700 million dollar embassy, with 16,000 employees, the largest in the world. About 8,000 troops are still there and estimates of up to 50,000 U.S. contractors.

So, clearly as of 2012, we not "saving" $440 billion dollars.

But even if both wars were truly over tomorrow, forget about roads, bridges, high speed rail, Internet and paying down the debt.   Because we would still need to cut another $860 billion this year, just to break even.

And this Reality Check.

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