DoD 2012 Appropriations: Earmarks & More….

Corruption, Government
Winslow Wheeler

The House Appropriations Committee has reported the bill and text for HR 2219, the 2012 DOD appropriations bill, that handles most, but not all, of the appropriations for DOD and for DOD expenses in Afghanistan and elsewhere (Title IX). Find the bill and report, as actually reported — not the pre-mark up versions distributed by the HAC — at the Thomas site for HR 2219 at ) for the report, and for the bill.

There are some elements to the bill that the HAC forgot to emphasize in its press releases and that the press has paid little to no attention to.

For example, I found the following to be interesting:

There are a pile of earmarks in the bill.  Some are sprinkled through the R&D section of the bill.  They start in the tables for Army R&D on p. 211.  See the very first one: +$20 million for “University and Industry Research Centers,” which is explained in the detailed table on p. 218 as for “Historically Black Colleges and Universities.”  It is explained more fully on p. 205.  The explanation, however, does not obviate the fact that the add on is an earmark to anyone who understands what earmarks are and why they are done.

Continue through with the tables for the other services, etc., and you will find many more — but fewer explanations.

There are a pile of earmarks in the Defense Health Program accounts; see the $523.5 million added to DHP; the projects are listed on p. 259.  Along with the perennial earmarks for breast and prostate cancer, there are several more.  Some but certainly not all of them are explained, very briefly, in the text that follows starting on p. 260.

There is a gigantic $1.5 billion earmark for unrequested National Guard equipment in Title IX. Page 311 explains how the reserve components are to carve up the money, and the committee gives DOD some oh so helpful suggestions on just what equipment to spend the money on, such as “Generation 4 Advanced Targeting Pods, Reduced Size Crashworthy External and Extended Range Fuel Systems (RCEFS) for Apaches and Chinooks, civil support radios, lightweight airborne recovery systems, simulation training systems, tactical radios, tactical trailers, and field engineering, logistics, and maintenance equipment.”  These “suggestions” are typically written by interested members who have been contacted by the interested state adjutant generals and other reserve component officials behind the back of OSD.  The AGs will know how to get their equipment when the bill is enacted, with accompanying report language.

Section 8122 provides another add-on/earmark for a $300 million transfer to the Dept. of Education; that’s the perennial “impact aid” for school kids of military personnel.  Dept. of Education, and lots of others, find it convenient to float this expense in the DOD budget.

But of course there are no earmarks in this bill.  We are assured of that on p. 338: “EARMARK DISCLOSURE STATEMENT Neither the bill nor the report contains any Congressional earmarks, limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined in clause 9 of rule XXI.”  “As defined in clause 9 of rule XXI” explains how they can say that.

The HAC made large, across the board cuts in O&M ($501.8 million), Procurement ($484.8 million) and R&D ($323.5 million) explained as “revised economic assumptions” (p. 330).  See section 8122 of the bill.  Except to say that “such reductions [are] to be applied on a proportionate basis” (I.e. across the boards), there is no further explanation.  In the past, these cuts have been explained to a selected few as based on revised estimates of inflation and sometimes foreign currency exchange rates.  In the past, the claim has been made they are based on CBO data, but CBO was not asked to make any calculations.  Also in the past, these arbitrary reductions are spoon fed to the HAC (and SAC) by the DOD Comptroller, or they are simply cooked up by the HAC (or SAC) staff.  These would make an excellent subject for a floor colloquy: What is the subject area: inflation? What is the analysis? Who’s analysis is this?  Got a copy of that analysis?  DOD’s and Congress’ misuse of inflation data and analysis is a long and sad (and crooked) story.  Find an analysis at http://www.cdi.org/friendlyversion/printversion.cfm?documentID=4663.

There’s more; seek and you shall find.