Politics

Senate Approves Billions of Dollars to Fund Wars

| by Reason Foundation

Thursday the Senate passed a war-funding bill totaling $106 billion (goddamn, that just seems like chump change these days, doesn't it?), with some of the funds even going to the prosecution of rudderless action in Iraq and Afghanistan. This bill will fund the wars through the end of this fiscal year. And needless to say, it's full of other junk completely unrelated to Iraq and Afghanistan:

At Obama's behest, the bill includes $7.7 billion to prepare for pandemic flu and funding to offer an increased line of credit to the International Monetary Fund. Congress added $1 billion to start the "cash for clunkers" program that will give Americans vouchers of as much as $4,500 to turn in their old cars and purchase more fuel-efficient ones.

Congress has agreed to increase anti-narcotics funding for Mexico, providing an additional $420 million this year to buy helicopters, surveillance aircraft and computers for police and soldiers fighting traffickers. The White House had asked Congress to add $66 million in the bill for Mexico's drug war—about enough to buy three helicopters. But lawmakers had become alarmed about the soaring death toll across the border, and they raised the total.

From $66 million to $420 million? To septuple down on a failed policy of prohibition that creates the violence in the first place? More dough for the IMF? Cash for clunkers? Who can keep track of this sort of stuff, especially when the U.S. is in the worst economic crisis since the disappointing B.O. of the latest Terminator flick and we're all balancing our budgets while wearing pickle barrels and selling apples to unemployed hedge fund operators?

The one good thing coming out of this damnable funding bill, which is precisely the sort of phony emergency supplemental spending bill that President George W. Bush used to fund his wars (now our grandchildren's)? Barack Obama has pronounced that it will be the last such exercise in legislative abuse.

The Obama administration said that this "emergency" spending bill would be the last of its kind, and that subsequent war spending would go through the regular budget process. Congress has authorized $882 billion in 17 such funding bills for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

And given Lord Obama's track record on cutting earmarks out of spending bills, well, don't hold your breath on anything ever changing, except your taxes. Which are going up.

In May 2008, Veronique de Rugy explained how the supplemental funding process was being systematically abused to fund "The Trillion-Dollar War."