IMF and flu preparedness don't belong in Iraq war supplemental funding

Posted on June 22, 2009

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What do all these things have in common: Cash-for-clunkers, IMF funding, pandemic flu preparations, and anti-narcotic aid to Mexico? They’re all considered “supplemental war funding” that the Senate approved in a late-night session July 18th.

Excuse me, Mr. President, but I thought I heard you promise not to use supplemental war funding bills any more. Apparently, according to PoliFact, I misheard (thank Bush for only funding Iraq and Afghanistan through September, 2009, instead of the whole year). But still, I’d really like to know how those programs are related to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Oh, that’s right. They’re not.

I’ve railed against emergency supplemental war funding bills for several years now. After all, we’ve been in Iraq for just over six years and in Afghanistan for nearly eight – you’d think we knew how much they were costing us every year. To his credit, Obama claims that he’s going to regularly fund the military in Iraq and Afghanistan via the normal appropriations bills starting in fiscal year 2010 (as of October 1, 2009). We’ll see. But there’s no way that a cash-for-clunkers program has anything to do with a war supplemental.

My issue isn’t that the IMF money and preparations for flu pandemic don’t qualify as emergencies. Depending on how serious the CDC and WHO think the pandemic will be come the start of this year’s flu season, supplemental funding for pandemic flu preparations may be an excellent idea. And if the IMF needs more money to keep the rest of the world from falling even deeper into recession and, not incidentally, dragging down the US with it, then by all means, procure supplemental funds for the IMF too. But don’t attach it to a “war funding” supplemental. Be honest about what you’re doing, come clean with the taxpayers and voters, and do it with different supplementals – one for the occupations of two sovereign nations, one for IMF funding, and a third for flu pandemic preparedness.

Sure, it’s less efficient – but it’s also more honest because it allows each of the supplementals to pass or fail based on their own merits, rather than on the merits of “funding the troops.” And attaching a non-emergency spending provision like the cash-for-clunkers program to a “must pass” bill is about as honest as attaching an amendment opening up national parks to people carrying loaded and concealed firearms to a credit card reform bill.

Oh, that’s right, Congress already did that.

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