Bush's Budget Blunder
Senate Accuses Bush of Dishonesty as Deficits Grow Larger
Did George Bush actually forget about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, or did he dishonestly try to push their budgets out of sight just long enough to fool the mainstream media? In any case, this new scandal means the American people now face even higher budget deficits.
Here are portions of a report from OMBwatch.org
During the debate on the latest emergency supplemental funding bill, Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Robert Byrd (D-WV) offered an amendment that dealt a symbolic blow to the administration's practice of secretly spending taxpayer money for its wars through an ad-hoc system of irregular spending requests. The amendment, which passed 61-31, expressed the sense of the Senate that war funding should be honestly and openly included in regular budget requests, not through hidden supplemental spending bills.
The Progress Report observes:
The president's FY06 budget proposal included no funding for the wars at all. No clothing, no food, no armor, no transportation, no ammunition for U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. That was Bush's official proposal.
The final budget resolution, as passed by narrow margins in Congress on April 28, did include two presidential priorities that he apparently considers more important -- a tax cut for the rich, and an increase in the federal deficit. That's right, in spite of talk about the growing deficit, this year's budget resolution fails to cut it at all and forecasts an even greater deficit. That's a tax increase for all American babies and children.
Byrd expressed outrage over the lack of transparency resulting from the piecemeal information the president provides Congress concerning the long-term costs and planning for ongoing military operations. Byrd felt the White House, by separating the regular budget of the Defense Department and other parts of the federal government from the wartime costs of military operations, had effectively denied Congress the ability to balance the whole picture of military needs of our troops and the other national priorities, such as education, highways, and veterans medical care.
The practice of using supplemental funding requests also has more serious implications for the goal of balancing the budget. During his introductory statement, Byrd highlighted the misleading and dishonest nature of a budget proposal containing such omissions. "By refusing to budget for the cost of the war, the President is submitting annual budgets to Congress that are downright inaccurate. These budget requests are inaccurate. They understate the actual amount of our annual deficits by scores of billions of dollars."
Byrd's amendment passed with the support of 21 Republicans, showcasing the growing bipartisan uneasiness in Congress with the administration's practices and the implications for the nation's fiscal health. To date, over $200 billion has been appropriated through supplemental spending requests for the wars and the Congressional Budget Office estimates it will cost an additional $458 billion over the next 10 years.
In the end, Byrd believes the key issue is honesty. "The President will not tell the American people what the war in Iraq will cost. By understating the deficits, the American people are being led down a primrose path. That is dishonesty."
To help solve this problem, Byrd's amendment calls on the president to include funding for the wars in regular budget proposals and submit to Congress by Sept. 1 a separate, detailed plan for the cost of each of the wars for the entire 2006 fiscal year.
Unfortunately, the amendment is non-binding and given the administration's penchant for secrecy and inability to admit to mistakes, it is unlikely to change the current practices for funding the wars. Byrd remained optimistic however, stating, "Hopefully, this will be the first step in restoring some sanity to the President's budget request that has so far ignored the enormous costs of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Also read these:
Financial Costs of War Against Iraq and Afghanistan
Greater Government Spending Has Not Enhanced National Security
Honor Our Soldiers--
Impeach AWOL Bush
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