Budget Smackdown

Everybody loves a crisis.

Possibly buoyed by the hope of political nirvana, several lawmakers have been making some pretty strong statements about the DoD Trust Fund.

As speculated by some media (though feared by too few Defense leaders), the sharks smell blood and are swimming around the sacred Defense budget. Lawmakers are openly speaking about possibly slashing Defense dollars by as much as 25 percent.

One lawmaker said the services are going to have to choose among their “fancy” weapons systems. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chair of the House Financial Services Committee shared his typically “frank” view, while Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), chair of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, said the Army would have to make a choice between increasing the size of its force and paying for those weapons systems. “Blurtha,” a retired Marine and perennial favorite on the “what-will-he-say-next” circuit, probably knows the point is moot because lawmakers already have added thousands to Army and Marine Corps rolls.

While such (public) utterances might amount to tried-and-true political preening, the DoD Trust Fund has been virtually bottomless since 2002. Need more? Sure, but what Congress giveth, Congress taketh away. Some within DoD (some well-meaning; others doing time) have proved poor stewards of the Stash of Cash. Could lawmakers be wondering how badly the doe-eyed-and-desperate service du jour “needs” a weapons system, when it allows costs and delivery schedules to spiral out of control? Credibility is such a lonely word. … Remember the Army’s race to disgrace with the Crusader?

No one wants to appear anti defense, but would you loan DoD money?

All good things come to an end (so they can begin anew). Chair of the Joint Chiefs Adm. “Mad Mike” Mullen, USN, recently made his move by shoveling cash into DoD’s main budget for the next several years. Essentially, it seems Frank and Blurtha saw Mad Mike’s $360 billion and upped the ante.

Let the budget bout continue.

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