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December 18, 2007

How High is Up? The Defense Budget gets even crazier
Posted by Lorelei Kelly

For those of you concerned about the state of US security--levees that don't collapse, for example, or bridges that don't fall into the Mississippi river, sit down before you see these numbers.

Last week, both houses of Congress approved the conference report on the Fiscal Year 2008 Defense Authorization bill, H.R. 1585. The bill includes $506.9 billion for the Department of Defense and the nuclear weapons activities of the Department of Energy. The bill also authorizes $189.4 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. This funding is NOT counted as part of the $506.9 billion.

Center for Arms Control and Non Proliferation has an itemized description of what's in the budget.

The amount of Cold War lard is truly astonishing, especially given the fact that the military itself is hollering from the hilltops that it can't be responsible for all of our national security needs and that today's problems just don't have military (read "Cold War weapons systems") answers.

Keep in mind, today's defense spending is 14% above the height of the Korean War, 33% above the height of the Vietnam War, 25% above the height of the "Reagan Era" buildup and is 76% above the Cold War average

In fact, since the September 11, 2001 attacks, the annual defense budget - not including the costs of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan - has gone up 34%. Including war costs, defense spending has gone up 86% since 2001.

Even the venerable Council on Foreign Relations has thrown down the glove on defense spending. Check out this very nice piece by Richard Betts in this month's Foreign Affairs. Oh, and even the director of the Congressional Budget Office is commenting on defense spending. (so much for stodgy bureaucracy, this guy has his own blog!!!) He has a good comment up, but I've had enough business school classes to know that all of this means that we are in deep financial trouble when it comes to security finances-- and just digging ourselves deeper.

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Comments

At a time when the US is not threatened by any other military force, the "defense" budget is largely porky corporate welfare.

Robert McNamara, back in the 1960's, introduced the new science of systems analysis to the Pentagon. Now the Pentagon budget would be categorized by type of force and based on actual defense needs. On actual needs! What a concept. But the Vietnam adventure ruined that.

Now, in the new millenium, without any significant threat, the basic Pentagon budget is almost entirely driven by the dollars that come in to each Congressional district, with congressional representatives fighting to keep those dollars at present levels or increase them through earmarks or however else they can. Reps brag on the dollars they bring in, and decreased "income" is not an option. There is no hope of ever getting a rep to agree to less dollars coming in to his or her district. It won't happen. Procurement spending is spread all around with sub-contracts to make sure that all reps are covered. There's a map somewhere on somebody's wall with dollar figures entered in each congressional district, and they must be maintained. This isn't rocket science, it's just smart politics.

There is no hope. Well, there is one--a strong Decider as President who can dictate terms. But such a decider would want an even larger military budget, so there you go. Democracy, in this respect, is a failure. Military spending is a drug, but there's no war on this drug.

The Pentagon wants even more, and so do the reps. What they will do to rationalize more useless spending is to relate it to GDP. It's only four percent now. Huckabee wants a Reagenesque level of six per cent--$780b. Nobody will bother to ask, in a systems analysis sort of way: Why relate military spending to GDP? What could possibly be the relationship between how much the US spends on jet fighters and the inflated prices Americans pay for second homes, vacations, and fine art? Or for China-made stuff sold in WalMart? There is no relationship except in their minds. But they'll shout it and the MSM will report it, and the government will borrow the money from our Asian friends, and we'll repay the loans with inflated dollars when the dollar isn't worth a nickel. Hey, that already happened.

As for the men and materiel bought with this inflated budget, what good are they if you don't use them? The new systems, tactics and equipment have to be tested, for one thing, under actual combat conditions. Between the "war on terror" and the "war on drugs", plus the trip-wire forces in 120 countries and the navy fleets sailing back and forth off alien shores there will always be a reason to field-test the latest military gadgets, explosive and otherwise. This is when the spending and the profits really jump--wartime.

news report:
In an unusual two-step, [House] lawmakers first voted 253-154 to approve the omnibus spending bill; they then voted 206-201 to add $31 billion for troops in Afghanistan to the measure.

So three reps voting the wrong way cost us $31b--a hundred bucks of borrowed money for every man, woman and child down the rathole--and 27 reps didn't even vote. This was on top of an already obscene bill that wasn't even seriously debated. Bush is happy with this emocracy in action.

::Keep in mind, today's defense spending is 14% above the height of the Korean War, 33% above the height of the Vietnam War, 25% above the height of the "Reagan Era" buildup and is 76% above the Cold War average::

As Mr. Bacon pointed out above, this does not factor in for the increase in the size of the economy. Of /course/ we spend more on defense now than we used to: in WWII, a top-of-the-line fighter aircraft cost far less than a million dollars; now it is more than two hundred times that.

Not linking defense budget size to increases in complexity and cost, inflation, and comparison to the GDP is simply an exercise in grandstanding and back-patting. To follow Mr. Bacon's logic, should we limit the price we'll pay for a soldier's rifle to $5 each, the price of a musket in 1776?

Don Bacon: "Military spending is a drug, but there's no war on this drug."

Word.

This is a gross as the FISA bloggers. Gross.

The defense budget is non military. It's federal jobs, etc.for dems. They are only worried about the non military money.

So I take it that preznit's time has been dominated by productive pursuits, rubber products, and haphazard knowledge of the stars and other less recognized operating systems. His whole house of cads is hanging together barely by a thread, a ambiguous metaphor foisted by an individual with a flute, or a flinging of baloney at clueless people (media) trying to figure out which fork to use, as he embraces the promise of alienation and it’s various gifts it has bestowed on him. What is needed is dissolving boundaries, the latest tome by the Shulgins, ethno-botany as it relates to oemlets and other egg dishes, prepared remarks to fend off media dorks and the dopey 25%, the throb of the zeitgeist, existence in the indeterminate zone, and the opportunities of his dilemma. Wasn’t it Gurdjieff that claimed that people do not perceive reality, as they are not conscious of themselves, but live in a state of hypnotic "waking sleep." My motto: While sleeping, watch. I guess I’m disappointed with the revelation of no commonality of perception, and it bites me on the ass every trash night. It’s the monkey mind, post-Mcluhanist. No one is in control, absolutely no one.

The road Boosh has set out upon has been in a sorry state of disrepair for quite some time, six times, and for you loyal 25 percenters, that's the amount of toes you have on your left foot. The bridge he crossed to get to what appears as a sun blasted lifeless desolate tract out in the middle of nothing (Are you sure this is the way?) is out as well, blowed up real nice, or so rumor has it. At the very least it would take quite a bit of effort to get back to where we were, as they tell me there is a sizable hobo camp inhabiting it's forlorn and forgotten shell. The Caltrans worker he passed a day ago warned him that the rode ahead is in a dreadful condition as well, or at least that's what he denies he said, as it was filtered through a formidable chunk of a puffy sickly sweet jelly doughnut confection crammed down his gibbering maw with suicidal abandon, unaware of the lurking type II diabetes about to cap his ass. And us? I try not to worry about the various potholes of of this preznit's deceit, nor the road-kill that's the price we must inevitable pay to play. Ah, but the play's the thing, wouldn't you agree?

Gas is a small price to pay for the high fiber diet of Boosh's life closely examined. Sometimes the pressure becomes too much to hold back as it attempts to escape in a barrage of born-again floppy-doodle, and we are ultimatley left with little choice but to reply to the unanswered question, squeezing out a joyous but cacophonous fanfare for this miscreant. Everybody by now has been warned or notified of his delicate mental condition, some getting more than a rebuke, others constantly thrown off kilter with every new geyser-like revelation.

So we plug along, equally puzzled by where we're going and the eternal battle with the con inside the White House, seeking freedom from all external constraints on our behavior. And ask anybody - he's definitely misbehaving! The fear of being overwhelmed by, what lately seems to be the boogey-man of his impending discovered lies has foisted an extra heaping helping of denial and guilt, inserting severe limits on his normal exercise of desire, need, and deception. Afraid to move forward, fearful and preoccupied by the past, his uneasy self-hate a way of generating and then explaining his perpetual sense of being downtrodden and defeated throughout his life. When one gets chopped off at the knees by fate, it's easy to feel defeated, which I guess is better than be fetid. The electorate has now jumped out of a plane twice without admitting how dangerous it is - Now there's the possibility that some of the original mouth-breathers will do it again, and constantly run the lousy film back over and over. This movie sucks! The springs in the seat are goosing us big time, we can't get comfortable, there's sticky gak all over the floor, the popcorn is stale and over-priced, the media all around us constantly yammer, and we can't get our money back.

So what do you think? Do you think the tires need to be properly inflated? Or do you feel like a lot of people that the resale value on this car is going to be nil?

Aerospace Daily & Defense Report
December 18, 2007

Senators Pressure White House For More C-17s

Nineteen senators are pressuring the White House and Pentagon to "rightly fund" C-17 aircraft production by including it in the forthcoming fiscal 2009 budget request due to Congress in February.

Two letters, dated Dec. 13, were dispatched . . ."We encourage you to work with DOD leadership to have C-17 funding added to their budget," . . .

Signatories of the two letters include nine Democrats and 11 Republicans, most of them from states in which Boeing has a significant business interest. They include Democrats Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Christopher Dodd (Conn.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Joseph Lieberman (Conn.), Patty Murray (Wash.) and Ron Wyden (Wash.).

The main problem with the defense budget is that it spends too much money on the wrong things such as the F-22 and aircraft carriers snd not making military officers better able to fight the war on terror such as schools that teach them local politics and culture in potential war zones such as Afghanastan and Iraq.

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