Monday, March 23, 2009

The War Supplemental is Coming Soon

During his campaign, President Barack Obama promised to end funding national security programs, including the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, through emergency budget requests. He was especially critical of supplemental requests for programs and activities unrelated to Iraq or Afghanistan or that clearly belonged in the regular defense and foreign affairs budgets.

With Obama's first emergency supplemental budget request coming later this week, now is the time to see whether he'll keep his promise. We clearly need such discipline. For the past eight years, both the Defense Department and the State Department have abused the emergency supplemental budget process to add to their base budgets. Supplementals, you see, don't receive the same scrutiny the appropriators in Congress normally give the basic agency budgets. As a result, by fiscal year 2009, roughly one-quarter of Defense's total budget and one-fifth of State's total budget came through emergency supplemental funds.