Analysis: Supplemental shell game balloons defense spending to $716 billion
AT THE SAME TIME that President Bush requested more than $700 billion for the Pentagon budget this week, he managed to create the impression that he was asking for the much smaller amount of $481 billion. The trick he used — socking about $235 billion into two "emergency supplemental" funding requests for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — didn't fool the public for very long. But the longer the White House and Congress continue to treat "war-related" funding as a separate item from the budget for the Department of Defense, the harder it will be to control a ballooning federal budget.
Here's how the supplemental shell game works. The official defense budget for 2008 comes to $481 billion. That's a 10% increase over last year and a 62% increase over 2001. And it conveniently fails to include a supplemental request of $141.7 billion, which brings the 2008 defense total to $622.7 billion. On top of that, the president requested a 2007 supplemental in the amount of $93.4 billion, bringing this week's entire defense "budget authority request" to $716 billion (the figure of actual outlays is even higher because it includes billions already committed to the Pentagon).
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