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Despite Cries for Offsetting Costs, Emergency Supplemental Inevitable January 4, 2010

Posted by Rebecca Williams in Analysis.
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The Center for American Progress recently released a report offering several recommendations for the Obama administration regarding the funding of troop escalation in Afghanistan.  As has been widely reported, the additional 30,000 troops will cost at least $30 billion. This amount was not included in the recently passed $636 billion FY 2010 defense budget.   This report proposes that instead of passing an emergency supplemental the Obama administration should offset these costs by eliminating or scaling back programs and weapons platforms in the FY 2011 base defense budget.  Recommendations include canceling the MV-22 Osprey, cutting in half the FY 2011 purchase of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and reducing the nation’s nuclear arsenal and reserve warheads.

Despite such reports, a defense and an international affair supplemental appropriations bill is on its way to Congress and every member will vote for it.  The administration is not going to issue war bonds, institute a war tax, or ask the Defense Department to eliminate or reduce defense procurement plans.  Each year for the last eight years the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been provided for through emergency supplemental appropriations and “bridge funds” attached to the annual defense appropriations bills.  While it makes perfect budget sense to offset costs, it is not politically viable for any member of Congress to appear soft on terror, especially after the recent terrorist attempt on Christmas Day.

And, while the Obama administration did submit the FY 2010 war funding at the same time as the baseline defense budget, the FY 2010 supplemental will cover the troop increase in Afghanistan as well as some programs that are not directly related to combat operations.  Continued reliance on emergency supplemental appropriations to fund America’s ongoing wars demonstrates that the Obama administration has yet to show it can back its strategies with efficient and effective plans, programs, and budgets.  This year will be telling in that regard.

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