Defense Spending in the FY 2009 budget – UPDATED

So for the last several years, the Bush administration has issued its proposed budget for the coming fiscal year, the defense spending in which was consistently under-estimated, resulting in requests for supplemental funding once or even twice a year. Part of the criticism of this is that a budget is supposed to be an estimate of all foreseeable expenses for the year, which should be balanced against the country’s income. Underreporting entirely foreseeable expenses makes a mockery of a budget process and prevented the Congress from adjusting other spending (or income through necessary tax increases?). This feeds into one of my biggest criticisms of the war – the fact that we’re financing it with future income – in essence putting it on a credit card. If the Republicans wanted their war, they should have been paying for it all along. Of course, their answer to that is to somehow cut discretionary spending (even though there’s not enough of that to make even a dent in the defense spending). Or even better let’s just privatize Social Security and get rid of Medicare to pay for the war.

Anyway – now, we’ve got a new budget which is making headlines for the fact that the total amount is in excess of 3 trillion dollars. I haven’t seen it anywhere, but I’d be interested to see some analysis of whether the defense spending includes money for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, unlike in years past. My guess is that it doesn’t. FY 2009 only includes 3 months and 20 or so days under the current president, so I’m betting the amount “budgeted” only includes big ticket items. No reason for the Republicans to become responsible in their last year in office.

But it’s a decent question to ask, because even with healthy Democratic majorities in Congress and a President Obama or Clinton, the earliest troops are going to start coming out will be March-ish 2009. That’s 6 months of the next FY.

UPDATE**Here’s some analysis on the topic. Guess I should have waited and I would have come across it eventually. And it looks like the estimate of funds for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan only includes the first quarter of FY 2009. So the point about Republicans being responsible stewards of the country’s money has been answered in the negative.

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