Friday, May 15, 2009

"Off Budget" War Spending: Harman vs. Harman

Jane Harman explained quite clearly in 2007 how wrong it was to be budgeting quite predictable war funds outside of the normal budget process. In a post titled simply enough "Put the Iraq War on Budget", Jane Harman was clear on her thinking:
We have already spent at least $400 billion dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But only about 9 percent of those funds were approved through the normal appropriations process.

The rest was passed in "Emergency Supplemental" appropriation bills not subject to budget caps or the normal congressional oversight process. These supplementals - because their numbers do not appear on the budgetary bottom line - allow the White House to pretend it is maintaining a semblance of fiscal discipline. But our deficits are already spiraling out of control and there is no way to bring the budget into balance without taking the staggering war costs into account.

The Bush Administration has claimed emergency spending is necessary because the costs of a protracted war on terror are not known. Nonsense. Both the Korean and the Vietnam Wars were almost entirely financed through the regular appropriations process - not emergency supplementals.

The White House will soon ask for over $100 billion in new emergency war spending, Adjusted for inflation, that is more than we spent in 1968, the most expensive year of the war in Vietnam. And the lion's share of that funding was done through the regular process.

There must be no more blank checks for this President, and I predict this will be the last "emergency" supplemental in the new Democrat-controlled Congress.
This week we saw a repeat of almost the exact same situation: The administration asking for just shy of $100 billion for war spending, without any restrictions (aka a blank check).

Given her clear statement she'd never again approve non-emergency war spending outside of the normal budget process, you'd think it would be easy to predict what Jane Harman would follow her own admonition and vote No when faced with the exact same situation this week. It turns out, she voted Yes.

So, simply using Harman's own criteria about "off budget" war funding, her consistent votes in favor of it show that she supports:
- purposely mischaracterizing war funding to avoid having to budget for it;
- making our deficits which are already "spiraling out of control" get even worse;
- making the Federal budget impossible to balance by refusing to take the staggering war costs into account.

That means that it's not just Marcy Winograd who's criticizing Harman over her support of irresponsible and progligate war spending - the person that Harman sees when she looks in the mirror is too!

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