Just weeks before the elections, some Republicans are coming forward and saying: On budget management, Iraq, the War on Terror — It's A Mess!
Fiscal Management: The cost of the War on Terror since 9/11 through fiscal year 2006 is 437 billion. Of that 437 billion the Iraq War has cost 330.4 billion. The federal cost for Katrina 130 billion, of 200 billion estimated by 2009. Total federal allocation for 9/11 recovery, 20 billion.
That is a total federal outlay for Katrina, 9/11 recovery, and the war on terror of: 437 + 130 + 20 = 587 Billion dollars or, a little over 1/2 trillion dollars. The National Debt in 2001 when Bush came into office was about 5.65 trillion. Current National Debt 5 years later is 8.5 trillion. In other words, the national debt has grown by 3 trillion but the total cost of Katrina, War on Terror, and 9/11 has only cost 0.58 trillion. So where did the other 2.43 trillion dollars of deficit spending go?
Sen. Enzi (R) said on Sept. 27, "The American people are tired of overspending." The Republicans ran for election in 2000 and 2004 on the twin issues national security and fiscal responsibility. Republicans have increased the national debt by 2.43 trillion dollars after excluding the emergencies cited above. This is not fiscal responsibility. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) speaking on June 14, 2006 about the Gregg proposal for restraining spending said it "will bring spending under control in 4, 5, or 6 years, which we must do".
Is Sen. Alexander serious? Is he really asking the voters to give Republicans another 4, 5, or 6 years to get spending under control, after wasting 2.43 trillion dollars over budget already for non-emergency and wartime spending? This is absolutely ridiculous, and any voter who cares about fiscal responsibility has to be blind if they think this Republican Congress is being fiscally responsible.
Republican Sen. Coburn said in his amendment 4848 this year on defense spending, that "earmarks [are] partially responsible for emergency supplementals and rising debt. He goes on to say: "The amount earmarked as a percentage of the total in the defense appropriations bill has correspondingly increased from about 1.8 percent in 1994 to approximately 2.4 percent in 2006."
Earmarks are spending projects added to bills, (also known as pork spending), most of which have nothing to do with the purpose of the bill at hand. Under Republicans, pork spending has grown by estimates of as much as 600% across all spending bills. Democrats have been criticizing that a disproportionate share of pork approved is going to Republican dominated states. Given Congress' propensity to buy constituent votes with federal tax dollars costing the rest of Americans, it is a very plausible criticism, which Republicans would be launching at Democrats were they in control, no doubt.
Pat Toomey, head of the fiscal conservative group, Club for Growth, said about Congress' spending binge and the voters this November, "If they don't show up in big enough numbers to return a Republican majority, it will be because Republicans in Congress let them down." Well, Congress has let them down, and voters should not return them to office on Nov. 7. The tax cuts you received will be paid back double by your children when they enter the work force. That is what national debt does — it transfers the tax and spending burden to the next generation.
War On Terrorism and Iraq: The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) clearly states the Iraq invasion has increased, not decreased, the terrorist threat in the world. This means one thing in light of our nation's porous borders – we are less safe today under Republican management than we were before we invaded Iraq. As we step up troop deployments in Afghanistan because of a growing Taliban and al-Queda threat there, it is clear we are not making the progress on the War on Terror campaigning Republicans and Pres. Bush want voters to think we are.
In testimony before an oversight hearing last Monday, Major General John Batiste, a life-long Republican, testified that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is not competent and does not know how to win. He said he retired rather than accept a third star on his shoulder because he did not want to be responsible for the fiasco, which Rumsfeld was overseeing. And the President is depending upon Rumsfeld's incompetence to manage the war on terrorism and the Civil War in Iraq.
The hearing conducted by some Democrats and Walter Jones, a self-professed conservative Republican Representative of N. Carolina, heard testimony from Batiste, and two other military personnel who have served in this Iraq conflict, Major General Paul Eaton and Marine Colonel Thomas Hammes.
General Eaton said the administration fails to understand or develop the strategy and operational planning necessary, and our forces have been undermanned from the beginning. He said the U.S. Army alone is short 60,000 soldiers for the tasks they are expected to accomplish, resulting in the "whack a mole" approach, which means pulling out of one hot spot to deal with another. Our soldiers are doing the very best, but those at the top are mismanaging their numbers, tasks, and operations.
General Eaton, with two sons in the military, said failure to date is also partially due to Congress' absence of oversight responsibility and failure to call in the military command to inform them of how much more was actually needed in spending, manpower, strategy and tactics, and equipment and maintenance. He said the president and Rumsfeld are still trying to fight these wars on the cheap and it is costing our military in preventable lives and casualties. He concluded by saying our Army and Marines are in poor shape now for the current tasks and the worsening situation before them. He said one of the best moves possible is to remove Rumsfeld from the management of our forces.
Col. Hammes managed bases for Iraqi forces into 2004 and said the Administration failed to support our forces with the right equipment and manpower and under resourced every phase of the Iraq War from the beginning. One of the three gentlemen listed here, I believe it was Col. Hammes, said the Veterans Administration is also under funded by 3 billion dollars to appropriately manage the increased load of military casualties, now 20,000 with serious wounds.
This testimony, combined with the NIE report, is unequivocal in its assessment of how the invasion of Iraq and its management have failed both our soldiers and our overall war on terror.
An article regarding a New York Times/CBS poll reported by the NY Times this month states: "With barely seven weeks until the midterm elections, Americans have an overwhelmingly negative view of the Republican-controlled Congress, with substantial majorities saying that they disapprove of the job it is doing and that its members do not deserve re-election."
It is voter's responsibility and duty under our Constitution to vote out incumbents who are mismanaging the nation, voter's taxes, and citizen affairs. The need for voters to communicate this duty and responsibility to Congress could not be greater or more dire. American soldiers are dying and wounded by such incompetence and lack of responsibility. Our children will suffer under a crushing debt load growing in the hands of this Congress. It is long past time for a change. Make that change on Nov. 7. A vote for an incumbent is a vote for more of the same.