Comments: Hypocrisy and the Pork Report

I'm sure you read the rest of the story - like the actual report from the House committee.

$656 million is provided for tsunami disaster relief, $45 million below the request. The $45 million reduction is for debt relief for affected nations. A recent committee oversight trip discovered that debt relief would not provide immediate assistance to tsunami victims.

And Tsunami Prevention--Committee funds the request ($14.5m) to build and deploy 32 new Tsunami-detection buoys in the Pacific, Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Funds are also included for coastal inundation mapping, and community outreach and preparedness.

Stingy? This on top of our 2B + military operation in support of Tsunami relief.

The Defense Department brought into action military assets to support relief operations in Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. The Defense Department has been providing vital supplies and logistics to the humanitarian effort since December 30.
At the height of the DOD humanitarian support activities, there were nearly 16,000 U.S. military personnel in the region focused on this effort.
There were 26 ships, 58 helicopters, and 43 fixed wing aircraft.
DOD delivered over 10 million pounds of food and supplies and provided well over 400,000 gallons of fresh water.
To date, DOD has treated almost 2,500 patients.

Interesting how the article left out the fact that the 45M is less than 10% of the relief, that we've already dontated more than 350M, that in terms of actual "support" by DoD and other groups the cost is well over 2B, and that the committee dropped it for what they belief is a valid reason (that maybe debateable, but I don't see these critics even attempting to debate the merits).

$594 million for counter narcotics efforts and police training in Afghanistan. $400 million as requested to train Afghan police and $194 million, $66 million below the request, to support ongoing counter-narcotic and crop alternative programs in Afghanistan.

$372 million for urgent health, reconstruction and alternative livelihoods to growing poppy projects in Afghanistan.

Funny how most of Afghani poppy ends up in Europe as heroin..not that we'll get much credit for that..

and the stuff cut for Afghanistan - read the report

570 million for a variety of Afghanistan reconstruction projects that will be considered in the FY06 budget process, including the refurbishment of the Kabul airport, venture capital funding, a hydropower and a gas-fired power plan, industrial parks, courthouses, a new law school in Kabul and a community housing project.

(note- considered for FY 06 mainly because the committee believes the agencies can't actually execute the projects in the next 6 months so why give them money they can't spend?)

The Committee did not fund approximately $1 billion in requested items either because they were not well justified or not executable in Fiscal Year 2005, or could be funded by other donors. The bulk of this funding is for the following:

n $200 million for the new Global War on Terrorism Partners Fund;

n $200 million for the new Solidarity Fund

Ok- debateable on whether there are other funding sources, but does the article add the reason and attempt to argue the merits - of course not..just mention the cuts.

92 million for humanitarian assistance for the Darfur region of Sudan.

Anybody else pony up for support to Sudan?

and the article has the gall to write

This at a time when the U.N. is desperately seeking funds for a new peacekeeping operation in Sudan, where millions of people are at risk.

As for the added funds - The Chairmanís Mark proposes a total for $76.8 billion for total defense related expenditures in the supplemental, $1.8 billion over the Administrationís request. The additions over the request are in support of deployed, soon-to-be-deployed, or returning troops and assist in force protection, or in increasing the survivability of troops in the field.

Of course, these are probably the same people bashing the administration for a poor job (and with merit I would agree) for not getting equipment to the soldiers in the field..I agree there is a lot of pork (and you nail some of the biggest offenders mainly in the Senate - Stevens; Inouye), but please list what the spending is before calling it pork.

Americans should look closer at the remaining funds and how their taxpayer dollars are being spent.

The authors might want to start with themselves about how to look at something closer before making unsupported an poorly researched conclusions

As for the other part, more to say about moving funds between the budget, supplementals, etc..It requires another post.

Posted by Col Steve at March 11, 2005 03:28 PM


And there's a little lesson in government dishonesty for us all, as well.

No, more of power struggles between branches of the government. The services, especially the Army, moved in the last budget cycle to program fund for operations. As strange as it may sound, Congress funds OMA (operations and maintenance) for peacetime training and exercises and has come to use supplementals as a check on an administration's use of the military in actual combat or major contingency operations. Administrations of both parties have tried to put money in funding accounts to cover operations and Congress routinely zeros them out without explanation, although arguably within the intent of Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution.

There are consequences though. Congress has come to give greater discretion to the executive and instead of declaring war or have more rigorous application of the War Powers Resolution, it has instead used the power of the purse. However, as you noted, many representatives see this as a chance to add personal pork projects. Also, it is now harder to withhold funding as many members are afraid of being protrayed as "not supporting the troops." (especially, I'm sure, after the way Kerry was tarred and feathered about his voting on funding). For the services, they tend to become addicted to supplemental funding and thus find it difficult to do good programming and budgeting. For industry, it also becomes problematic as short-term funding puts some companies in a bind to ramp up and then have to lay off with unpredictable revenue streams. Finally, it is deceptive to the public has it tends to mask the true cost of decisions, especially when both the executive and congressional branches can time the supplementals.

It would be far more effective to let DoD do a 2 year budget that includes the cost of operations and then have Congress hold the executive to task in execution..I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by Col Steve at March 13, 2005 07:37 PM