Government Spending

The War-Spending Debate You Won't Hear This Week


The Iraq War is being paid for via the most fiscally irresponsible method in modern American history—a series of "emergency" supplemental bills, outside the normal vetting of the budgeting process, several years after any of the costs could at all be described as being unplanned "emergencies." You knew all this, because you read Veronique de Rugy's groundbreaking May cover story about how congressional Republicans ripped the lid off of all previous restraints on a system that is as easy to abuse as the phrase "support our troops."

This week we are experiencing the ugly results—Democrats are cramming into the latest $195 billion emergency supplemental bill $11 billion in unemployment benefits, among other non-defense items. That likely pales in comparison to the cost of unvetted weaponry goodies that the Department of Defense is shoving into the package; meanwhile,  President Bush has also thrown in extraneous crap, such as $770 million for international food aid.

If the federal government was playing by rules that were in effect as recently as 2000, emergency expenditures would mostly be offset by cuts elsewhere in the budget, war funding would have been enveloped into the normal defense-budgeting process by no later than 2005, and—this bit is underappreciated—we might actually know the real-world price tag of the war, because budgeteers would have made at least a half-assed attempt at filing war-related expenditures under the same category, instead of willfully blurring the lines.

Instead of any of that, politicians this week, including the major-party presidential candidates, will argue about withdrawal timetables that'll never become law, then eventually agree to spend another couple hundred billion dollars without anything resembling oversight or basic fiduciary responsibility. And if Democrats aren't making even the slightest noises about reforming this system now, it's hard to imagine them suddenly getting religion only after increasing their majorities in Congress and re-taking the White House.

NEXT: Prof. Tattletale

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  1. unvetted weaponry goodies

    Hold the phone there.

    If anything that freaking “vetting” process makes every piece of hardware 10x more expensife and 5x longer to get fielded than the alternative.

    Perhaps you are talking about some other program type?

  2. ack, expensive

    See, failure to vette is faster AND cheaper.

  3. Haven’t we had many threads about new levers to power that the Democrats will absolutely love?

  4. ‘Vettes are fast but they sure ain’t cheap.

  5. Hi, I’m running for president. I will cut your taxes and send each one of you a check for $ 10,000. Also, I will wage war until they all love us and give us the oil under their sands for free.

  6. sixstring,

    Well, you can only pick 2 you know.

  7. Slugger,

    Too late, your platform just won Indiana.

  8. Unemployment benefits fit into the bill, Welch. Don’t you remember the War on Poverty?

  9. Our only hope is McCain. He will spend so much money on war that the economy will collapse and we shall have anarchy in the streets. I’m stocking up on 7.62×39 for just this event. I also expect zombies, vampires, and mummies, but no werewolves.

  10. Clinton won Indiana? Gotta check this out.

  11. I’m stocking up on 7.62×39 for just this event. I also expect zombies, vampires, and mummies, but no werewolves.

    Good, more 12 GA for me!

  12. Damn she did. 51 to 49 percent. My apologizes for my ignorance, I have finals this week.


    Same here, except I’m gonna read up on Mao, also known as Warlordship 101. “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

  13. You guys are missing joe pick on me in the Goodbye to Hillary Clinton thread.

    He just said everybody who I agreed with insulted. Had something to do with his not getting a density physics joke by Episiarch about his skull.

  14. Ah, remember those carefree innocent days back in November when a new Democratic Congressional majority was going to swoop in with their First 100 Hours plan and fix all of this?

  15. I’m pretty sure that the Democrats never promised to end the war if they took power in 2006, because, as a practical matter, they don’t have the power to do so (even if in theory they do).

  16. “Write-in Revolution”

    To quote a famous line: “You Earth people are stupid! Stupid, stupid, stupid!” Ron Paul is NOT running as a write-in candidate. He is NOT a qualified write-in candidate. He has stated repeatedly that he will not seek to qualify as a write-in candidate. Which means that a write-in vote for Ron Paul will not get counted! Not just shuffled over to the corner and lost, but literally not get counted. No one will know you voted for him but some nameless overworked volunteer down at the county RoV.

    In the meantime, there will be other candidates on the ballot besides the big three tyrants. The Libertarian Party will have one, and the Constitution Party will have one. Vote for one of them. If you do choose to vote, don’t throw it away with a write-in that will not get counted.

  17. Geotpf | May 7, 2008, 6:06pm | #

    I’m pretty sure that the Democrats never promised to end the war if they took power in 2006, because, as a practical matter, they don’t have the power to do so (even if in theory they do).

    Wow, you really are a flake.

    Yes, Ms. Pelosi, the new Speaker of the house, did promise that along with the impeachment of President Bush. They do have the “power” in theory and in reality, if you just count D noses. The problem that crops up is some of her ned D folk happen to be hawkish Ds, like Heath Scheular. Sadly, in the real world, D does not yet equal surrender monkey. Good luck in a few years.

  18. But unfortunately Republicans are now spending monkeys, just like the Democrats. Thanks for the war and Plan D, Mr. Bush!

  19. zoltan,

    Um, the Dems are the ones in charge of spending now (yes, no matter what they taught in Government class, the whole Congress is in acharge of spending now), your comment seems more appropriate pre-2006.

  20. Thanks for the war and Plan D, Mr. Bush!

    And the ag bill…
    And steel tariffs…
    And BCRA…
    And No Child Left Behind…
    And DHS, TSA, and John Ashcroft…
    And warrantless wiretapping…


    It is time to give Iraqis their nation back before too few are left to remember that most Shiite, Sunni or Kurd Iraqis described themselves as Iraqis above all else and religious or sectarian group members second?..

  22. I never fear withdrawal, it cuts down on the child support checks to chicks you hate.

  23. Veronique’s (TFC) piece was da bomb! Wait, I’m not Randy Jackson.

  24. Guy, just because people aren’t in power doesn’t mean they aren’t itching to spend your tax dollars in any way possible. That goes for both parties.

  25. Guy, the Dems were not in power in 2006, not until January 2007. They have been in power, with a very small majority, for less than a year and a half. All of 2006 belongs to the republicans. If I remember correctly they didn’t pass much that year and pushed some budgets onto the incoming 110th Congress

    Anyone know the percentage of republicans that have voted for all the spending bills since 2007?

    Although the dems have the purse, they are simply using a technique that the republicans put in place. It’s a no-brainer that the republicans planned to take advantage of it if they were still in power. Let’s see how many republicans support this bill.

    Both parties are addicted to spending lots of our money. They have made it into a job. It’s like a drug user finding a way to make using drugs a job. A $188K a year job.

  26. TrickyVic,

    Somehow your brain has morphed my criticism of the Democrats into an endorsement of the Republicans.

    Not sure how that happened, but I do know it was not off of anything I have ever written on this ‘blog, nor anyplace on the intertubes.

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