Thursday, December 17, 2009

But dudes, listen, sometimes there are real emergencies. No, like REAL ones, not the ones the Republicans call "emergencies"!

President Obama told everybody back in February that the Pentagon was done with "budgetary sleight-of-hand." No more "emergency supplementals"! The regular ol' budget is going to include "the full cost of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan"! After all, we've been fighting for almost eight years, so we ought to know what it costs by now... right?

Let's ask Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell:

Q Geoff, correct me if I'm wrong here, but when President Obama took office in January, wasn't one of his stated goals -- a promise, if you will -- to not have any more war supplemental funding from the Pentagon? Was it a mistake to make that kind of a promise when he hasn't even gotten through a year without doing that?

MR. MORRELL: I seem to recall the statements to that effect. I mean, I think it's -- and that's perfectly reasonable. This administration has made a commitment I've seen it -- and I think you've seen it -- follow through on, which is that they wanted to fund the wars, you know, through a budget process that -- through the same budget process that we looked at for the base budget. So while it wasn't technically part of the base budget, both those numbers were sent to the Hill simultaneously, and the overseas contingency operations fund and the base budget were scrutinized in the same way, by the same committees, on the same timetable. And that remains the case to this day.

Now, obviously there have been developments that have taken place. There's been
a decision -- an extraordinary decision to surge additional forces in. That is the -- that would require emergency funding. And I think the administration, the White House, OMB, this department, are in the process of trying to determine how best -- how best to fund those operations. I don't know that a decision has been made as to whether it will require an additional supplemental, whether there will be an -- you know, whether you will amend something that, you know -- any of the budget bills that are currently up on the Hill. I don't know. They're the best people to address that to.

But I think the president's commitment to having the Congress be able to scrutinize the Defense budget, the war budgets in a very deliberate way remains strong to this day. And -- but I think -- I don't think the commander in chief has ever taken an option that he has off the table.

I don't think there was ever a promise, a determination that you would never perhaps fund things through emergency funding. Things happen that sometimes require that you fund them in extraordinary ways. But let's see what they ultimately determine as to the way ahead.

"Look, obviously there have been developments that have taken place. We could never have accounted for that! I mean, aren't emergencies like this the reason we fund the wars through emergency supplementals?"

[Psst! Hey Geoff! Can I have a word?]

"Oh, wait. I've just been told we're not in the business of doing emergency supplementals anymore. So let me get back to you on the yet-to-be-determined 'extraordinary ways' that might be required to fund this genuine emergency."

1 comment:

  1. Example of people who don't know the process or how to keep it short and simple. What he should have said:

    "What the president meant to say was that this administration will not abuse the defense emergency supplemental process by padding it with routine defense funding requests or to sustain operations that have already been established as a baseline for OIF/OEF.

    That does not apply to this situation, where a dramatic increase in troops in Afghanistan was not anticipated last year, and where it has been determined this year that a troop increase is urgently needed. Therefore this troop surge is an emergency defense issue, and furthermore, we will push to ensure it is not padded with unnecessary or routine defense funding requests."