28 January, 2008

Military spending

I hate off-the-books budgeting.

Now it looks like the Defense Department (and Congress) might eventually be stuck with the sticker shock that comes from putting everything out for the public to see. Especially if there is a McCain presidency. From Government Executive:

In a move sure to draw sharp protests on Capitol Hill, Pentagon officials are not planning to send along an fiscal 2009 war spending supplemental request when it submits its annual budget request to Congress next month, congressional and defensesources said. Instead, the heftysupplemental for next year would likely come to Capitol Hill this spring -- weeks after the Defense Appropriations subcommittees begin their scrub of the Pentagon budget. "The administration has concluded that it's better not to say anything than to even suggest something," a House Democratic aide said. It "looks like they're going to continue funding the war as they have been."A Pentagon spokesman said he believed no firm decision had been made and stressed that it would be premature to comment on the budget before it is submitted to Congress. For years, lawmakers have criticized the Bush administration for relying on emergency spending, which is not subject to the same caps and oversight as traditional budget requests, to pay for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Critics in both parties have argued that the years-long operations no longer can be called an emergency and should be considered in tandem with the routine budget request. In 2006, Congress attached provision to the fiscal 2007 defense authorization bill requiring the Defense Department to request all predictable war costs on a yearly basis at the same time as it submits its annual budgets. Arizona Sen. John McCain, now the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, sponsored the language in the Senate, where it drew unanimous support.

So what would the sticker look like? Chalmers Johnson, arguing against what he calls "military Keynsianism" estimates the fiscal 2008 spending exceeds 1 trillion dollars. I think he's probably right. Between the supplementals and the "black" programs, and not counting retirement and veterans' health care, it's a pretty good guess.

1 comment:

Ryan McGregor said...

We're all screwed. Government starts spending money on something and gets so used to it that they never stop. Save one candidate, every person in the race, on both sides, is going to continue this trend.