Congress Proposes to Increase Military Spending to $700 billion

 

Approved by the Armed Services Committee by a 27-0 vote in late June, the overall Senate bill provides $640 billion for core Pentagon operations, such as buying weapons and paying troops, and another $60 billion for wartime missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere. Trump’s budget request sought $603 billion for basic functions and $65 billion for overseas missions.

As their House counterparts did, the Senate bill rejects Mattis’ plan to launch a new round of base closings starting in 2021. He told lawmakers in June that closing excess installations would save $10 billion over a five-year period. Mattis said the savings could be used to acquire four nuclear submarines or dozens of jet fighters. But military installations are prized possessions in states and lawmakers refused to go along.

Any base closings? Any discussion about cutting back on the ambitions of its advocates, the global footprint, the number of missions, the empire maintenance? Nope. Just like every other function of government, it continues to grow.

Are you kidding me? We have wars to fight, people to kill, money to spend, and jobs to protect.

Here.

 

That $65 billion in “overseas missions” is called the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund.

It is a separate pot of funding operated by the Department of Defense and the State Department, in addition to their “base” budgets (i.e., their regular peacetime budgets). Originally used to finance the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the OCO continues to be a source of funding for the Pentagon, with a fraction of the funds going to the State Department.

Since the OCO fund has very little oversight and is not subject to the sequestration cuts that slashed every other part of the budget in 2013, many experts consider it a “slush fund” for the Pentagon.

Details here.

 

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Air Force could recall up to 1,000 retired pilots

Flash:

The Air Force could recall up to 1,000 retired pilots after President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at addressing what the Pentagon has described as an “acute shortage of pilots.”

The order, which Trump signed Friday, amends an emergency declaration signed by George W. Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

Under current law, the Air Force is limited to recalling just 25 pilots. The order signed by Trump temporarily removes that cap for all branches of the military.

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Cmdr. Gary Ross, said in a statement that the Air Force is currently “short approximately 1,500 pilots of its requirements.”

Any discussion about cutting back on the ambitions of its advocates, the global footprint, the number of missions, the empire maintenance? Nope. Just like every other function of government, it continues to grow.

 

Federal Community Development Block Grants Re-distribute Upwards

A perfect example of how government programs get re-directed to the well-connected. From Politico:

San Francisco will get $19-a-person in community development block grants this year, while Allentown, with twice the poverty and less than half of the median income, will draw a per-capita allotment of $17.53….Community development block grants rely on outdated, 1970s formulas that have increasingly shuttled dollars to wealthy places like Newton, Mass., while other locales in need, such as Compton, Calif., go wanting.

As Chris Edwards notes, it gets worse:

The federal aid system generates no net value—it is simply a roundabout way of funding local activities. Taxpayers in San Francisco mail checks to the IRS to fund the CDBG program. Their money flows through the HUD bureaucracy, and then is dished out to bureaucracies in Harrisburg and Allentown, with some trickling down to local residents and businesses. Meanwhile, taxpayers in Allentown are also mailing checks to the IRS to fund the CDBG program. Their money flows through the HUD bureaucracy, and then is dished out to bureaucracies in Sacramento and San Francisco, with some trickling down to local residents and businesses.

The Finale:

“The federal aid system thrives not because it benefits the American people, but because it benefits governments and lobbyists.”

Here.

Illinois Budget Uncertainty Extends into New Fiscal year

You’ve no doubt already heard about Illinois politicians have spent their state into a deep hole. Update:

House Republicans on Friday helped advance a Democratic-drafted $36.5 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that begins on Saturday, but the deal stalled with negotiations continuing over a revenue package and an assortment of non-budgetary matters sought by Rauner.

They have literally proved that Keynesian pump-priming (government spending) to get their economy moving does not work.

Navy shows off its $4.4B warship of the future

The Navy gave a first look inside the stealthy and futuristic Zumwalt destroyer on Friday during the ship’s first port stop at a Rhode Island naval station.

The 610-foot-long warship has an angular shape to minimize its radar signature and cost more than $4.4 billion. It’s the most expensive destroyer built for the Navy.

. . .

The ship is named after the late Adm. Elmo “Bud” Zumwalt, who earned the Bronze Star in World War II and commanded small boats that patrolled the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. He became the youngest chief of naval operations and earned a reputation as a reformer, who fought racism and sexism.

Aside from all the sentimentality, is this really necessary? Oh yes, we have to forever commemorate WW II vets and someone who fought racism and sexism to boot.

We’ll be paying for these things for the rest of our lives.

Here.