Over the coming months, Congress will continue to debate President Bush’s record $3.1 trillion budget request. Although the Democrats and Republicans do not see eye to eye on many issues, they are in total agreement that national security should receive the highest budgetary priority.
Regardless of the rhetoric that this spending makes America safer, the proposed budget continues the trend of placing inordinate emphasis on offensive military strength at the expense of homeland security. It is as if the United States plays the A-team for preemptive wars abroad, and then fields a poorly-equipped junior varsity squad to defend the homeland. What might be worse, Congress is now adding billions more in earmarks that further distort the nation’s spending.
The $515 billion the president proposes for traditional defense spending is the largest it has been since World War II in inflation-adjusted terms, an increase of over 74 percent since Bush’s first year in the White House. And that’s without emergency supplemental funding requests that will total at least $160 billion to cover the tabs for the wars in Iraq andAfghanistan, and the budget of the second largest cabinet agency, the Department of Veterans Affairs, where war costs are also directly felt. In total, the United States will spend three-quarters of a trillion dollars next year to support what is essentially offensive firepower.