Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 3, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

MORE BUDGET FLIM-FLAMMERY....Today's news about the latest budget request for the Iraq war is actually sort of peculiar:

The White House said Thursday that it planned to ask Congress for an additional $70 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, driving the cost of military operations in the two countries to $120 billion this year....The cost of military operations in 2006 is $35 billion higher than what Congress had estimated a few months ago the Defense Department would need this year.

More money I understand. But $35 billion more than expected? What's up with that? There are at least two likely explanations:

As in previous years, the supplemental budget request also will ask Congress to pay for programs that are not directly related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Kaplan said part of the supplemental funding he did not say how much would go toward the Army's effort to convert its forces into smaller, more deployable combat units.

Some budget experts have criticized the practice of including in "emergency" spending bills the costs of programs not directly tied to military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Robert L. Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, which lobbies for balanced budgets, said the Pentagon might intentionally be seeking more money than it needed for this year so that next year's funding request would look small by comparison.

That sounds right to me. Some of the extra money is just a convenient way to inflate the normal Pentagon budget without getting too much pushback from Congress (it's an emergency!), and some is just for show so that next year's request will look smaller. Smoke and mirrors, baby, smoke and mirrors.

Kevin Drum 1:11 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (52)

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Comments

If your question is: "do we need that money", then the answer is "you betcha!"

Trust me.

Posted by: Donald Rumsfeld on February 3, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

I always enjoyed Mr. Bixby's work on "The Incredible Hulk" and "The Courtship of Eddie's Father."

Posted by: Pat on February 3, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Yeee-haw! Someone finally looking out for Halliburton! Thank god none of the hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars has gone to body armor.

And "Courtship" was a great show.

Posted by: Gore/Obama '08 on February 3, 2006 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

and don't forget the 20% right off the top that goes into the Cayman Island trust funds of the neo-cons.

Posted by: scott on February 3, 2006 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

That's Bill Bixby, you Philistine.

Posted by: Donald Rumsfeld on February 3, 2006 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

(singing) People let me tell you 'bout my best friend...

Posted by: Donald Rumsfeld on February 3, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Just say No!

Thank you,

HRlaughed
rktect.blogspot.com

Posted by: HRlaughed on February 3, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

This sort of crap is inevitable once you start in with this "emergency" and "off-budget" stuff.

Having an "emergency" appropriation every year tells me that somebody can't plan ahead. More than two consecutive years of "emergency" appropriations ought to be an impeachable offense.

Posted by: jimBOB on February 3, 2006 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

I thought they were "winding down" the Iraq reconstruction effort. How much would the request have been if reconstruction were continuing apace (so to speak)?

Posted by: Robert Earle on February 3, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure quite a chunk of that money gets diverted to various "Black" programs. For example, how are we funding our "Salvadoran option" death squads in Iraq? And where is the money coming from to upgrade the NSA computing power needed for their ever-expanding data-mining operations?

Posted by: Derelict on February 3, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

That's Bill Bixby, you Philistine.

Posted by: Donald Rumsfeld on February 3, 2006 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, yeah. Still. What range, no? Genetically mutated green monster AND a sensitive single dad. Anyone remember, "The Magician" where he was a magician who solved crimes? With that kind of acting talent, can I really be blamed for thinking he might be a budget expert?

Posted by: Pat on February 3, 2006 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Not only is it an "emergency", but if you vote against it because it contains some non-emergency items, you're "against the troops" or you "were for the war before you were against it."
I'm surprised they don't just attach Social Security privitization to a war appropriation, since they could use it for political advantage. Hey, it's related- the soldiers will retire some day (the ones who don't die.) Why do you hate the troops?

Posted by: SP on February 3, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

I'm surprised they don't just attach Social Security privitization to a war appropriation,

Ruh ro, now you've done it. Stand back for the omnibus Appropriations and Total Federal Funding While We're At War, Dammit, Act

Posted by: craigie on February 3, 2006 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Oh good, so now next year's Pentagon budget will seem $35 billion lower. Maybe we can use that $35 billion we'll feel like we saved for a tax cut. Of course it's hardly enough money to bother about, if you tried to spread it around to ALL the rich people - maybe we could just give it to the 10 richest dudes in the country. Or else we could invade some very tiny little Muslim country - Brunei, maybe, or the Seychelles?

Posted by: brooksfoe on February 3, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure quite a chunk of that money gets diverted to various "Black" programs. For example, how are we funding our "Salvadoran option" death squads in Iraq?

These guys are so incompetent. $35 billion? Back in Salvador we funded the whole death squad operation on 5 million bucks from a few Israeli-brokered F-14 spare parts sales to Iran. And we executed thousands! Talk about bang for your buck.

Posted by: brooksfoe on February 3, 2006 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Of course the Cold War era inspired weapon system, the SSN-774 Virginia class submarines (about $2.4 billion each) continues on at warp speed. However, this will be offset by cutting the Army Reserve and National Guard units - Who needs more boots on the ground. The derided, by many military experts including the Institute for Defense Analyses, brigade combat nimble strike forces pushes forward.

In other news, RumGoering, the airpoweruberalles guy, likened Chavez to Hitler. And we get hit whenever, we play the H-card.

VA head Principi steps down over reports of surpressing studies of depleted uranium causing more and more cases of Gulf Syndrome.

Smoke from White Phosporus and mirrors.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on February 3, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Nearly three years into operations into Iraq and Congress has the nerve to call it an "emergency"?! Have they been f***ing asleep while 2,000 soldiers came home in body-bags? And are they going to be "surprised" when more are killed?!

Emergency my a**. This is willful, politically calculated incompetence. And every time one of our sons or daughters comes home in pieces, the civilian leadership that came up with this NeoCon right-wing fantasy needs to swallow his flag-lapel-pin and have it shitted out with a horse laxative.

Posted by: Jon Karak on February 3, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure quite a chunk of that money gets diverted to various "Black" programs.

Yeah, like turning our soldiers into huge, green genetically-mutated monsters, just like Dr. David Banner, played by Bill Bixby!!

See, the pieces are all starting to fit together...

Posted by: Donald Rumsfeld on February 3, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

It's not a war, it's an occupation. If I'm a congressdude, I introduce legislation requiring that it be labeled as such in all future budget discussions.

Posted by: craigie on February 3, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Hell for 200 billion we could have bribed Saddam into handing over Iraq and everyone would haved saved. oh well hmmahm

Posted by: GOP liar on February 3, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

I suppose there is no point in starting a drive to pursuade congresspeople to vote against the appropriation?

Posted by: Katherine on February 3, 2006 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

"Some of the extra money is just a convenient way to inflate the normal Pentagon budget without getting too much pushback from Congress (it's an emergency!), and some is just for show so that next year's request will look smaller."

When in doubt about a Bush initiative, always look at where maximum benefit to friendly corporations and maximum opportunity for political spin intertwine.

Posted by: brewmn on February 3, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

'I always enjoyed Mr. Bixby's work on "The Incredible Hulk"'

Word. It was bitchin' when the mofo would turn green and bust outta his britches!

Posted by: Fred Flintrock on February 3, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Instead of niggling over $120 billion vs. $90 billion, the Dems and their surrogates (MoveOn.org et al) should be running full page ads pointing out that these verminous people aren't even willing to pay for this occupation (call out to craigie)!

If the GOP had an ounce of integrity or conviction about the debacle in Iraq, they would rescind Bush's tax cuts to pay for it.

I can see the ad banner now: "STOP ASKING OUR GRANDCHILDREN TO PAY FOR YOUR OCCUPATION, MR. BUSH!!!!"

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on February 3, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

You're right Kevin, the budget tactic on supplementals works more or less as you describe it. Having worked in a few Federal budget shops that's exactly how it works. There's even a joking phrase: don't miss the supplemental train!

Basically, supplementals don't count against any ceilings or other constraints. And they get passed pretty easily with little review. So every Federal budget officer worth his or her salt sees that a supplemental budget is being prepared and starts thinking: what can I possibly get connected to this thing? e.g. Katrina - what do we have that's remotely linked to the hurricane? The war - what do we have that can, even tenously get hitched onto that?

And it works, and it blows to smitereens the whole budget process, which unfortunately has degenerated into pretty much of a joke anyway.

So there are billions and billions of almost totally unnecessary and really unrelated items shoved into this monster. Billions that we will all have to pay interest on.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on February 3, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

What about My Favorite Martian? Bet Bixby thinks we need to pay for Bush's Mars mission so we can visit Uncle Martin.

Posted by: SteveH on February 3, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

34 billion extra

Lets see...thats a GWB Presidential Library (inluding a full size replica of the Prarie Chapel Ranch) along with a Dick Cheney Annex in each state.

Posted by: Keith G on February 3, 2006 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

What about My Favorite Martian? Bet Bixby thinks we need to pay for Bush's Mars mission so we can visit Uncle Martin.

Posted by: SteveH on February 3, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

I forgot about "Martian." But, yes. I agree absolutely. Bixby would be fiscally responsible. Remember how well he cared for those little orphans in "The Apple Dumpling Gang?" That's the type of guy who doesn't shirk hard choices.

Posted by: Pat on February 3, 2006 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

The "emergency" funding is all about making the war look cheaper to people who aren't paying attention.

If you pay for it in two allocations of 75b (to pull a vaguely accurate number out of my hat) each year many people end up thinking that the war is costing 75b/year, when in fact there was 150b that you couldn't avoid announcing publicly.

Of course really the cost is higher than what they can't avoid announcing. We are burning up consumables that aren't being replaced, piling up VA and retirement obligations, etc.

Posted by: jefff on February 3, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Let's not forget we dems wanted the Iraq's to pay for reconstruction.Stupid dems what where they thinking.

Posted by: GOP liar on February 3, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

The answer is obvious to anyone paying attention.

The public is starting to catch on, so Halliburton, etc need to dramatically increase the rate of theft before the mid-term elections have the possibility of closing off the spigot.

Posted by: tinfoil on February 3, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

The oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years. Now, there are a lot of claims on that money, but We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon.

Paul Wolfowitz, Testimony to the U.S. House Appropriations Committee , March 27, 2003

Posted by: Remember Wolfie on February 3, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

$35 billion for what?

it's a multiple choice question!

(a) Iran
(b) Venezuela
(c) something else

For (a) and (b), think of it as a "down payment"

Posted by: Satan luvvs Repugs on February 3, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Last year's appropriation contained $332 million for small arms ammunition. The supplement is a way to add on stuff the Pentagon was going to buy anyway but got to make the "budget" seem under control.

Posted by: TJM on February 3, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

Iraqi exported a total of over 500M barrels of oil in 2005 and 2004. At $65 that's $32.5B, or $100B over 3 years.

If the 3 factions are able to come to a politial settlement production will increase almost immediately by 50%.

Yesterday JP Morgan raised GDP forecasts to 5% in the 1st Qtr and 4% for the 1st half of 2006. This is well above expectations included in the budget. Tax receipts will be much higher. The deficit has been exaggerated for political purposes anyway and will be at least $100B lower.

Posted by: rdw on February 3, 2006 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

I suspect that the Pentagon wants to get more funding for development of new technologies. Unlike the delusional leftists who think that the National Security is the theme song for the next Disney movie, the adults who, thankfully, are incharge of the nation have their spending priorities just right.

Posted by: tbrosz on February 3, 2006 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

This thread is hilarious--Pat, craigie and Donald Rumsfeld (whom I suspect is the craigman) are making me giggle.

Everyone goes along merrily, cracking wise and unanimously recognizing bullshit when they see it. Then rdw waltzes in at 4:07 and makes the inadvertently funniest post of all.

Posted by: shortstop on February 3, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz, you are insane! 19 men spend a couple hundred thousand dollars to buy airline tickets and boxcutters to crash three planes into American landmarks and you think spending $440 billion a year in response is "just right"??? What kind of drugs are you on? You clearly have little or no ability to assess risk or understand rational responses to perceived threats.

If the Republican Congress had followed the recommendations of the Gore Aviation Commission in 1996 and strengthened cockpit doors for, say a few million dollars, 9-11 would have never happened.

Thanks for proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that you cannot think rationally.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on February 3, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Bixby is dead of course so that will actually make him the brightest of the brain-dead Bush Cabinet and advisors since he will actually know it and be humble.

Posted by: murmeister on February 3, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

$35 billion higher - it's to make up for all corruption going in Bush's Iraqi government and under the table contracting deals.

Posted by: Cheryl on February 3, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

I suspect that the Pentagon wants to get more funding for development of new technologies. Unlike the delusional leftists who think that the National Security is the theme song for the next Disney movie, the adults who, thankfully, are incharge of the nation have their spending priorities just right.

And it conveniently increases demand for the services of right-wing gasbags like tbrosz. I am happy to know, tbrosz, that you are not being left off the gravy train. Imagine, without the budget for new technologies (to fight whom? space aliens?), the demand for the services of greedy, selfish little republican engineers would plummet.

Posted by: Baldrick on February 3, 2006 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Stephen Kriz, Baldrick: pssst....that's the fake tbrosz. Always check the e-mail address.

Plus, tbrosz never defends excessive Bush/GOP spending. He just pretends it's not happening.

Posted by: shortstop on February 3, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

This front-page headline in this morning's Seattle Times should be on every paper's front page:

War in Iraq costing $100,000 per minute

Posted by: puffin on February 3, 2006 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

I suspect that the Pentagon wants to get more funding for development of new technologies. Unlike the delusional leftists who think that the National Security is the theme song for the next Disney movie, the adults who, thankfully, are incharge of the nation have their spending priorities just right.

Which is why these adults put ordinary R&D requests into an emergency spending bill.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on February 3, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Donald Rumsfeld:
If your question is: "do we need that money", then the answer is "you betcha!"

Aren't you the same Donald Rumsfeld that predicted the war would cost less than $50B, total, and a significant portion of that would be paid by other countries?


Posted by: Numsfeld on February 3, 2006 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

"JP Morgan raised GDP forecasts"

And in related news, "Dukes" picked Miss Sparkle in the 8th at Sportsman Park - However, the Green Sheet thought Dixie Dazzler was the bet of the day at Santa Anita.

Stay tuned for the harness guys and gals at Philadelphia Park.

Posted by: stupid git on February 3, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

tbroz, if they were adults, wouldn't they have budgeted for this?

Oh, wait, they 'budgeted' by loosening their belts and sitting back, ignoring how much this costs 'cause they get paid every time something goes wrong.

That's not how my 'adult' world works.

Posted by: Crissa on February 3, 2006 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK
if they were adults, wouldn't they have budgeted for this?

Not necessarily; adults can be underhanded.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 3, 2006 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

War in Iraq costing $100,000 per minute Posted by: puffin on February 3, 2006 at 4:34 PM

Hell, give me 1% of that and not only would I capture Bin Laden, I'd cage wrestle him on pay-per-view.

My God! That idea is golden! Where's a Fox executive when you need one?

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on February 3, 2006 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

The public won't catch on till one day they reach in their wallet and it's empty, yep...always thinkin ahead. The real kicker is this don't even include the DOD's regular stipend of roughly 65%-70% of our regular tax monies. Where are all the "conservatives" when you really need them?

Posted by: Ben Merc on February 3, 2006 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

"The cost of the war will be small. We can afford the war, and we'll put it behind us."

--Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, New York Times, 3/9/03

Posted by: CFShep on February 4, 2006 at 7:13 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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