Budget Flim-Flam Continues
- June 2 - Not content with pumping billions of extra dollars in the military
budget over the last eight months, Congressional Republicans are using a budgetary
slight-of-hand to hide the fact that their inflated military budget does not comply
with their own budget resolution.
According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Senate and House Armed
Services Committees have both adopted Defense Authorization bills whose outlays
totals of about $284 billion exceed the Republican-passed fiscal year 2000 budget
resolution target for outlays by over $6.7 billion and $8.3 billion, respectively.
Earlier this year, Congress adopted a budget resolution approving $288.8 billion
in budget authority for the Pentagon, about $8.3 billion above the Administration's
request for fiscal 2000 and $18 billion above the fiscal 1999 level (excluding
To pay for this huge increase, domestic and international programs have taken
a huge $20 billion budgetary, from $266 billion in the current year (not including
emergency spending) to $246 billion in the fiscal 2000. These cuts are already
causing major complications for the Republican majority in passing non-defense
appropriations bills. Last week the House failed to complete action on the agricultural
appropriations bills due to internal disagreements on budget caps.
Yet even this $18 billion hike was not enough for Members of Congress trying to
stuff the Pentagon with new money. Just two weeks ago, Congress added another
$5 billion to the President's request in the emergency supplemental appropriations
bill to pay for the war in Kosovo, thus making room for billions of dollars in
spending in the FY 2000 bills.
In October last year, Congress tacked on $8.3 billion in additional "emergency"
excess funding for their pet projects. In both cases, the excess funds did not
count against the budget caps, but rather came out of the social security surpluses.
Then comes the budget voodoo. Both Budget Committees waved their magic wands and
declared the authorization bills were $10.5 billion less than CBO had estimated.
To quote from CBO: "At the direction of the House and Senate Budget Committees,
the scorekeeping estimate for national defense outlays will be $10.533 billion
lower than CBO's estimate."
Thus we have the following situation: Ever since last year's funereal cries of
a readiness crisis, Congress has added $33 billion from the approved fiscal 1999
levels: $8 billion in last year's supplemental request; $5 billion in this year's
supplemental request; and a $20 billion increase in the defense bills from fiscal
1999 to fiscal 2000. And while the Republican Party talks of budget discipline
and the sanctity of the social security surplus, it ignores both when it comes
to making sure defense contractors are happy and Members of Congress can bring
home the pork.
This budget legerdemain has another purpose that keeps liberals quiet: The $10.5
billion "magic asterisk" that reduces the official defense outlay total will now
be used to increase outlays for domestic and international programs.
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