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  • Friday, November 10, 2006


    The Curious Case of Current US War Funding

    Here's a fact that may be obscure to you (it was to me): The War in Iraq is not funded out of the normal US Federal Budget voted on by Congress. All those supplemental spending and "emergency funding" bills that Congress passed over the years to fund the war have, in past wars, always been folded into the normal budget process within a reasonable amount of time.

    If a war is an ongoing expense and will be for the foreseeable future, then it becomes part of the federal budget. The government plans for it. Emergency funding is just that: unexpected and sudden need for funding. Yet once or twice a year Congress votes on "emergency" funding for the war to the tune of 60 to 80 billion dollars. Now why is that?

    In related news, I knew the budgets submitted by Prez Bush had been increasing at a greater rate than those by Prez Clinton but it still boggles me exactly how much these submitted budgets have being increasing.

    Budgets submitted by Clinton for Fiscal Years (FY) between 1996 and 2001 rose from $1.6 trillion to $1.8 trillion, an increase of $200 billion over a 6 year period. (These numbers are obviously rounded quite a bit.) In a similar period, from 2002-2007, Bush's budgets increased from $2 trillion to $2.8 trillion. Perhaps you also missed the little jump between Clinton's last budget and Bush's first of $200 billion, equal to Clinton's total budget increases over 6 years.

    So, to recap, Bush has increased his proposed budget amounts at approx. 5 times the rate of Clinton. Clinton's last budget was for $1.8 trillion, Bush's current proposal is for $2.8 trillion, an increase of $1 trillion. (I intend this as an observation, not necessarily a partisan attack.)

    And, lest you forget, those emergency supplemental requests for funds for the war are not a part of the budget. If you included those, my (very loose) estimate is an additional $250 billion for the war beyond the budget. My estimate is based mostly on this Cost of War page which lists the supplemental allocation of funds passed by Congress.

    Welcome to another endrun around fiscal responsibility in government.

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