Back-door defense spending

The Pentagon

TEXT OF STORY

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Next month President Bush will offer his budget for 2008. He says he will lay the groundwork that could lead to a balanced budget in several years. But when it comes to the Pentagon, the White House has sidestepped the normal budgetary process. Marketplace's Jeff Tyler says the Defense Department gets money through the back door by way of emergency spending bills.


JEFF TYLER: President Bush is expected to propose a Pentagon budget in the neighborhood of $470 billion.

Separately, he'll request some $100 billion additional to cover the Iraq war through an emergency-supplemental budget. It will include new jets and equipment that will take years to produce.

GORDON ADAMS: They're going to be things that are manifestly not emergencies.

That's Gordon Adams, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He says this military-spending shell game erodes fiscal discipline at the Pentagon.

ADAMS: Defense has probably one of the best budget planning systems in the entire federal government and that system has essentially collapsed. We're now at a point where something like 20 to 25 percent of the resources for the Defense Department are not going through their normal budget process.

By avoiding that process, these rushed emergency requests also avoid scrutiny, bypassing two of the three relevant committees in Congress.

I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.

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