U.S. militarism

Charles Brown CharlesB at CNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us
Tue Apr 13 09:54:01 PDT 1999

Military Analysts Critical of Pentagon Spending "Plus-up" --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Center for Defense Information October 16, 1998 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Washington, D.C. -- The Center for Defense Information (CDI), an independent organization which monitors military spending, today issued a critical assessment of the nearly $10 billion in additional Pentagon spending attached to the FiscalYear 1999 Omnibus budget agreement.

"Congress has given the Pentagon a $10 billion windfall, much of which was not requested" said Rear Admiral Gene R. La Rocque, USN (Ret.), President of CDI. "Some of it, such as $1 billion for missile defenses, appeared at the 11th hour, and is simply being thrown at the Pentagon to use as the military determines."

Congress has already approved nearly $270 billion for the Pentagon in Fiscal Year 1999 as part of the annual appropriations process. The $9.3 billion included in the supplemental package is in addition to this amount. This means that the Pentagon will spend nearly $280 billion in 1999, more than 55% of the total $500 billion discretionary spending package thrown together by Congress as they rushed to leave town.

By declaring the spending package an "emergency," Congress and the Administration were able to ignore federal spending limits set in last year's Balanced Budget Act. This is in spite of the President's pledge to use the so-called budget surplus to address long-term Social Security needs.

Details of the package are sketchy. "Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and other congressional leaders assured members of Congress that they would have a chance to look at this legislation," said Senior Analyst Chris Hellman. "But I've spoken with a number of congressional staffers who work on appropriations, and they admit that neither they nor the members know what's in this bill. This is a very cavalier way to conduct the people's business."

CDI has identified most of the additional Pentagon spending contained in the bill. As expected, it includes $1.9 billion for ongoing U.S. military operations in Bosnia, $1.1 billion to improve the readiness of U.S. forces, $1.1 billion to attempt to fix the Pentagon's "Y2K" computer problem, $235 million to repair flood damage at U.S. military facilities in South Korea, and $385 million for improved security at U.S. embassies. Unexpected was the $1 billion for ballistic missile defense systems and the $2 billion for intelligence which was added on top of the approximately $27 billion recently adopted by Congress in the Intelligence Authorization Act.

Other spending included $690 million to halt the flow of narcotics into the U.S., $140 million to repair damage from hurricane Georges, $210 million for the Coast Guard, an additional $200 million to support health programs for the military's 8 million eligible recipients, and $50 million for countering weapons of mass destruction.

Admiral La Rocque concluded, "It is appalling that after 10 months of inaction, this Congress in just two weeks made decisions about one-third of all federal spending, and that they know very little about the massive spending package for which they voted."

Contact: Col. Daniel Smith, USA (Ret.) or Chris Hellman (202) 332-0600

CDI is an independent research organization that opposes excessive military expenditures and policies that increase the danger of war.

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