Slate Magazine parrots what I said in my earlier faux press release for the LP this article — Rummy’s Got a Secret: He’s hiding up to $40 billion in defense spending. Let’s find it.:
True, the Defense Department’s official press release on the budget states that restructuring the Army will involve “procurement of equipment plus added facilities and infrastructure,” then adds, “In FY 2005 and FY 2006, the Department proposes to fund these restructured units through supplemental appropriations, and then in the baseline Army budget beginning in FY 2007.”
But one line in a press release doesn’t quite constitute “all right out in the open.” Nor does it explain how anyone could possibly justify putting the “procurement of equipment … facilities and infrastructure” into a supplemental–especially since, next year, the Army plans to put such items back in the main budget, where they belong.
Here is the only possible explanation for this games-playing. President Bush is cutting, in some cases slashing, domestic programs. If he appears to be raising military spending by about 4 percent, well, some may think that’s not excessive in a dangerous world. But if he seems to be raising it by 8 percent or 9 percent (again, not including the costs of the war in Iraq), that may seem a bit lopsided, warranting closer inspection. [emphasis added]
Basically, the president is playing budget games and inflating the Pentagon pork by not putting the operational real costs in the budget, then pushing these required costs through later via supplemental funding.
Slate also exposes some of the Pentagon pork that needs to be cut completely:
- The F22 stealth fighter aircraft ($4.3 billion for 24 planes). Is this program really needed, given that we already have stealth planes and no other nation has an air force capable of shooting down many of our non-stealth planes? Rumsfeld has said he’ll stop buying F22s in 2008. How about now?
- The Trident II nuclear, submarine-launched ballistic missile ($1 billion for continued procurement of five missiles funded last year). Aren’t 6,000 strategic nuclear warheads enough? The Trident II was built specifically to destroy hardened Soviet ICBM silos–not the mission of the day.
- The Virginia-class nuclear submarine ($2.6 billion for one) and the DDX destroyer ($1.8 billion for continued research and development). Does our current fleet of submarines and destroyers face even the slightest threat?
- The CVN-21 Aircraft-Carrier Replacement Project ($872 million for advanced procurement). A few months ago, Rumsfeld pretended to be efficient by announcing the decommissioning of the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy. He didn’t tell us, then, that he was planning to build a new one in its stead.
- Missile Defense ($9.7 billion for further R & D). Well, it’s a slight cut from last year’s $10.5 billion but, given this program’s continued testing failures and ambitions that seem beyond the scope of modern engineering and physics, the time may be particularly ripe for a swipe.
One could hope that any political party that prides itself on fiscal conservatism would be howling in indignation at the amount of budget manipulation and fraud is going on here. I know the Republicans aren’t speaking up, and I know the Democrats are more concerned with saving Social Security entitlements than to challenge this. So why are the Libertarians so deafeningly silent on this bloated pork? Do they not care?