Saturday, February 03, 2007

Coleman & Klobuchar Need to Correct Funding Cut

"Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." -George Santayana The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905

According to George Bush, September 11 had changed everything, yet I have to wonder.

Although all of us will remember 9/11, I remember 9/10.
On September 10th , John Ashcroft submitted his first budget which although he sought increases in funding for sixty-eight Department of Justice programs, none were related to counterterrorism. In fact, he rejected the FBI’s request for $58 million for 149 new counterterrorism field agents, 200 additional analysts and 54 extra translators.
On the same day, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff informed Senator Dianne Feinstein that the draft legislation on counterterrorism and homeland defense would require another six months to study.

The consequences of the terrorist’s attacks were rooted in America’s negligence to repeated warnings ( the most recent being on January 31, 2001 when former Senators Gary Hart and Warren Rudman issued their report on the U. S. Commission on National Security/21st Century.)
[ NOTE : I am not a 9/11 theory conspiracist that believe the government purposely ignored warnings, or allowed this tragedy to happen to allow a rational to attack Iraq; rather the incompetence of the Bush Administration is to blame.]

America was unprepared before, but what about now ?

The Do-Nothing 109th Congress ended their session with nine of the 13 appropriations bills unresolved. The government has operated under Continuing Resolutions to fund operations through February. Last week, the House approved another Continuing Resolution valued at $463.5 billion to keep the government going through the rest of this year. Due to the need to fund High Priority Programs, other programs are being under funded.

What are some of the High Priority Programs?
Although the Iraq/Afghanistan War has largely been funded through Supplemental Budget Requests, which are forecasted to be $163 billion this year, the Defense Department has real needs. The House has included an additional $6.3 billion in increase funding for Veterans Health Care raising the total to $32.3 billion. Also, The existing Defense Department Health provision is increased by $1.2 billion to $21.2 billion. Weigh those costs against the FBI which includes an increase of $216.6 million to $6 Billion. A fraction of the cost of the budget goes to detection/prevention ($6 Billion for the FBI) while the Department of Defense budget is $432 Billion plus the costs of the war. And in FY2008, the Bush administration is seeking a record military budget of $622 Billion.

If some programs are classified as High Priority Programs, then logically there must be Low Priority Programs.
Last year, Congress approved $122 Million for the State Department’s Antiterrorism Training Assistance (ATA) Program and related smaller programs. These programs provide funding for airport security and bomb detection, coping with weapons of mass destruction and countering terrorism funding. The Bush Administration had requested $135.6 Million for the ATA program for FY 2007.
That’s a problem --the House doesn’t classify Antiterrorism Training as a High Priority.
That’s a mistake.
Words are nice but dollars matter. The House passed legislation on January 9th to bolster terrorism-fighting efforts by endorsing the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations, but the dollars are needed now and in the future.

You know the adage, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure … and I have no problem having my taxes raised to pay for detection and prevention … it’s a better investment than sending our soldiers to battle. Somehow the idea of cutting Millions when spending Billions does not make sense.

The Senate will next consider the Continuing Resolution. Senators Coleman and Klobuchar need to get the monies added to wage a Smart War on Terror. And if they don't want to raise taxes, then I suggest they cut the funding for DM&E. After all, the Federal Transit Administration budget is being increased $470 million.

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