Portraying a Defense Budget Increase as a Cut

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Monday, February 02, 2009 at 2:10 pm

Josh Rogin of Congressional Quarterly does a great job fleshing out some of the budget-backstory between the Defense Department and the Office of Management and Budget that I alluded to in this post.

Basically, OMB told the Pentagon late last week that it wasn’t going to accept the fiscal 2010 budget request, written during the final hours of the Bush administration, as it came in a bloated $60 billion over the previous’ year’s tab. OMB — whose defense-spending office is headed by a sharp defense wonk named Steven Kosiak — told the Pentagon that it had to cap spending at $527 billion (excluding war costs!), which represents an eight percent budget increase over the fiscal 2009.

But, Rogin reports, that’s where the chicanery lies!

Defense budget experts have said the draft by the Joint Chiefs, which was never publicly released, was designed to pressure the Obama administration to drastically increase defense spending or be forced to defend a reluctance to do so. Defense officials in past outgoing administrations have left inflated budget estimates for incoming officials in the hope of raising the spending baseline. In fact, the draft budget was never scrubbed by Bush’s OMB, which had told federal agencies to submit draft budgets based on “current services.”

Here’s where it helps to have Defense Secretary Bob Gates impose some discipline. Getting eight percent more, outside the costs of the wars (!), during a time of global economic distress is, you know, really generous. An OMB official told Rogin that the Bush-drafted request was a “wish list” for conceivable defense spending — a classy little sayonara to the incoming Obama team — not a realistic budget. Gates has been telling anyone who will listen that the budget is coming down, hard choices are going to have to be made, and people are going to have to stop whining and reconcile themselves to this new reality. So it’ll be interesting to see if he starts with this budgetary gem.

But! I hear that he may send OMB a letter objecting to the $527 billion (outside of the wars!) ceiling. I’m trying to learn more about that now. Could it be that despite the resource-shift talk, Gates doesn’t mind a little budgetary good-cop-bad-cop?

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5 Comments

Jaff Sassani
Comment posted February 2, 2009 @ 11:30 am

Honorable President Obama: The US Government

Honorable Staffan de Mistura: The UN Representative in Iraq

Honorable International Community: The People and the Countries in the World

From: The “Jaff Sassani Organizations” in Iraq and Iran

We are the “Jaff People organizations” representing one forth of the Kurdish populations’ in Northern Iraq in the KRG area. We are appealing to the President of the USA, UN and international communities to rescue us form the internal wars of Iraq.
Since the creations of Iraq as an independent country we Kurds are facing unjust rule by the Arab rulers from Baghdad Government. That unjust practiced produced the Arab-Kurds conflicts until now. After the suppressions of the Kurdish revolt from 1921-1958 we lived in Iraq without any laws protecting our right. The Iraqi King family used Kurdish tribal leaders and Kurdish mercenaries’ to control our people. The Kurds was part of the Iraqi revolt against the borrowed King from Saudi Arabia and the establishment of the Republic of Iraq. In 1958 Iraqi constitutions’ we are recognized as the equal partner of Iraqi Arabs to run the Government of Iraq by laws.
The Arab rulers of Iraq start denying our right after 1958 revaluations which lead to our people’s revolt against the Republic of Iraq in 1961. Since 1961 we have been in state of the war with the Arab’s ruler in Iraq.
The unjust practice by the Arab rulers in Baghdad produced Barzani and Talabani family for our poor people; they are ruling us much brutal than the Arab ruler of Baghdad.
Barzani and Talabani always will find excuses to start the wars with the Arabs or each other to keep our people in state of war so they can rule us by the iron fist.
In the article by the UN representative in Iraq Mr. Staffan de Mistura are very clear and hopeful news for our people to have free elections and rule of law finally.
“The second challenge relates to the growing tensions between Arabs and Kurds. These tensions, based on historical, Baathist and more recent injustices in the swath of “disputed territories” to the south of Iraqi Kurdistan, especially the oil-rich province of Kirkuk, have infected almost every aspect of the political scene. They have impeded progress on the vital oil law, revenue-sharing and constitutional review; they brought the armed forces of the central government and the Kurdish region to the brink of conflict a few months ago; and they provoke the mutual distrust and unhelpful rhetoric that appears to paralyze governance at many levels.
Iraq's friends in the international community must encourage the national (and largely Arab) Iraqi and regional (Kurdish) leaderships to ratchet down tensions and explore new solutions for some of the most pressing issues: the oil law, Kirkuk, local security forces and the constitution. On a positive note, there is a growing desire among the various Kirkuki ethnic groups to reach a compromise that would be acceptable to the other communities living in Kirkuk, not just to their own. When I visited Kirkuk last month, this was the message I picked up from almost everyone I met.
The third challenge is the need for a greater willingness to seek national reconciliation at all levels and among all major groups: Sunni-Shiite, Shiite-Shiite, Sunni-Sunni, Arab-Kurd and Kurd-Kurd. As the United Nations works to promote the spirit of dialogue and reconciliation here, our staff has noted that “compromise” in Iraqi Arabic is often mistakenly translated as “tanazul,” which has the connotation of “giving up on your principles.” Given this mind-set, it's hardly surprising that identifying outcomes acceptable to all can be difficult.
Fortunately, during the past few months, there have been several issues, including the elections law and matters in the disputed areas, where tense political standoffs were ended when an impartial outsider presented a proposal that all sides could agree on as a face-saving win. A growing Iraqi willingness to forego the perfect solution for any one party is a positive sign. We must build on this recognition that compromise is the only way to proceed in a nascent democratic system, especially one with such profound wounds.”
We are calling on the Iraqi Government, the US Government and the UN to do this for our people so we can have chance to live like human being:
1- We want security in KRG regions to run free in elections against the unjust ruler of Barzani and Talabani mafia type Government. One note they are the people who did steal billions of dollars from our budget money. They are building private secret services, armies and police forces to kill any one challenging them peacefully. We do need Iraqi Army to protect us first from the mafia rulers otherwise we do not have chance to run in the elections against them most likely we will be killed before the elections.
2- The true representatives of our people are not looking for wars with the Arab ruler of Baghdad. We like to live in peace in our regions without the supervisions of the Arab rulers of Baghdad. We want to stop the Barzani and Talabani family wars against the Baghdad Government for good and establish lawful relationship with the central Government based on the UN judgments.
3- We are calling on the UN and the US Government to use historical document for establishing the boundaries between us the Kurds and Arabs. We used to be living in south Baghdad before Islamic Arab Imperialists conquered our Sassanid Empire. Since then we are getting pushed farther north and father north every time the Arab imperialist has power to do so. We are divided nations like cow. We do need protections by the international communities otherwise we are 40 million people will end up in Europe as refugee.
4- The Kurdish problem are indeed are very similar to the Jewish problem in the Middle East. We believe that the Kurdish people will go back to Kurdistan in the future; even if they are pushed out by the Arabs and Turkish Imperialists now to form much stronger nations than Israel. We are survivor. We survived many Empires and we will survive unjust rulers like Barzani, Talabani, Arab rulers of Iraq and Syria and Turkish Imperialists of Turkey.
5- In conclusions we are for peace and justice by law for people.


Porkchopicus_of_Borg
Comment posted February 2, 2009 @ 12:57 pm

MEGO*

*My Eyes Glaze Over


Frank Antinucci
Comment posted February 2, 2009 @ 1:55 pm

Great catch Spencer, and great article as well.


carafano
Comment posted February 5, 2009 @ 8:35 am

“It’s not really clear what’s going on,” said James Carafano, a defense expert at the Heritage Foundation who says the “supplemental” spending process has been abused. “We have played such a shell game with the American people, they don't know what we are paying for anymore. We can't even have an honest debate about whether defense spending is going up or down.” In a dangerous world, defense spending should go up, not down. If Obama means to do otherwise, the American public has the right to know it before it’s too late.


carafano
Comment posted February 5, 2009 @ 4:35 pm

“It’s not really clear what’s going on,” said James Carafano, a defense expert at the Heritage Foundation who says the “supplemental” spending process has been abused. “We have played such a shell game with the American people, they don't know what we are paying for anymore. We can't even have an honest debate about whether defense spending is going up or down.” In a dangerous world, defense spending should go up, not down. If Obama means to do otherwise, the American public has the right to know it before it’s too late.


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