February 1, 2008  

War funding fudge

TO THE WHITE HOUSE for its plan to fold most wartime funding into its base Pentagon budget request starting in fiscal 2010. Such a move would be ill-advised for three reasons. First, it makes it easier for Congress to shift tens of billions of defense dollars into pork programs. Second, merging war-related expenses into the regular defense budget would produce distortions and potentially chaos for the base budget, which should be separate so that funding for necessary nonwartime defense programs is properly safeguarded. Third, blending war-related costs into any general funding pot helps disguise the true cost of war. Good policy keeps base defense spending and wartime funding separate to protect the former and reduce the risk of larding the latter.