Saturday, April 2, 2011

Oh What a Lovely Budget Item - Reason Magazine

When Bill Kristol endorsed America's intervention in Libya, the Weekly Standard editor was being completely consistent with everything else he has said about American foreign policy. He just wasn't being consistent with his pose as a proponent of fiscal restraint. It's bracing to watch Kristol twirl so easily from denouncing "the Democrats' orgy of spending" and complaining about Republicans who "don't have a credible plan to deal with the debt or the deficit" to jubilating that the president "didn't shrink from defending the use of force." But the pundit's gyrations can't obscure a basic reality: You can pay your bills or you can be a global policeman, but you can't do both. Not in 2011.
According to ABC, the cost of Obama's kinetic spending reached $600 million in its first week. The Pentagon  estimates  that the total could reach $800 million by the end of September, and the Pentagon just might be lowballing. Todd Harrison, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, has told The National Journal that the price tag could "easily pass the $ billion mark on this operation, regardless of how well things go." And if things  don't go well.. But let's stick, for the moment, with the costs of that initial week. That's already more than half the amount House Republicans have asked to cut from Americorps. It's more than twice the amount they've asked to cut from Amtrak. It's nearly four times the size of National Public Radio's entire operating budget for fiscal year 2011, including the parts that come from private sources. All this for just a week of a war that—unlike our invasions and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan— doesn't even pretend to be an act of self-defense. (When Kristol endorsed a spending freeze, he made an explicit exception for "national security." I realize that "national security" is usually a euphemism for "anything remotely related to foreign policy," but just for fun, let's take it literally Does anyone out there seriously believe NATO's planes are in Libya's skies to keep Americans secure?)

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