Remember that budget that came out a few days ago? You know, the one that was the largest one ever, with a gigantic deficit, that the press kept trying to describe as “spare” and “full of deep cuts” to “rein in spending”?
Well, you probably heard that it included a record-breaking military warchest (and “In another sign of the times, financing for the apprehension of Army deserters would double”). And maybe you heard that a lot of things you might think of as belonging to the military — like, say, nuclear weapons development — aren’t even part of the Defense Department allotment but are snuck into other parts of the budget (the Department of Energy gets the A-bomb funding, for instance).
But even that wasn’t good enough. , the Dubya Squad asked Congress for an additional $82 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and for the greater glory of American foreign policy (you know, like payoffs for foreign governments that backed the Iraq War fiasco).
It is one of the largest emergency requests in recent U.S. history, coming on top of $25 billion already allocated for the war in . The sum exceeds the president’s combined funding request for the departments of Homeland Security, Justice, and Housing and Urban Development, and it is nearly five times the savings Bush is seeking in cuts to discretionary spending.
Why didn’t they include this money in the budget they just released? Well, you know, these wars are big, unpredictable, exceptional things. Huge asterices that get in the way of reasonable budgeting. Besides, the rules on these supplemental warbucks packages are faster and looser and the bills get much less Congressional scrutiny… which means, of course, that they’ll try to sneak in as much as they can.
There’s not much in the way of specifics in any part of this document — no breakdown, beyond a billion or so, of that $17.3 billion for Army operations and maintenance, or of $5.6 billion for Air Force operations and maintenance, or of $990 million for Army military construction in Iraq. The list could go on and on.
This is one reason the administration is loading so much military spending in a supplemental instead of the regular budget. The budget is scrutinized; supplementals aren’t.… ¶ [T]his supplemental includes quite a lot of money for items that have nothing to do with the costs of war in Iraq.…
Finally, there is the slush fund for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. When that $87 billion supplemental came out in , I noted provisions giving Rumsfeld the authority to move around $9.3 billion — 11 percent of the total amount — from one account to another at his discretion. This time, I’ve spotted between $7.5 billion and $11 billion (10 percent to 14 percent), depending on how it’s counted.
Sen. John Kerry called for tens of thousands of new U.S. troops on and said the country should adopt a series of initiatives to support military families.
Kerry said he plans to file legislation to increase the size of the military by 40,000 — 30,000 in the Army and 10,000 in the Marines — to help support the country’s efforts in Iraq and the larger war on terrorism.…
“The war in Iraq proved that a lightning-fast, high-tech force can smash an opposing army and drive to Baghdad in three weeks. But there is no substitute for a well-trained and equipped infantry to win the peace,” Kerry said in remarks delivered at an annual ceremony sponsored by the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester.