State Department Bullies Congress on Budget Cuts

Stern warnings that budget cuts will compromise national security are a dirty political trick that belies the truth

The State Department is complaining about expected cuts from Senate and House appropriations committees for next years budget, going so far as to claim national security would be at risk if proposed cuts are made law.

The recent warnings by top officials in the State Department echo the public relations effort by the Defense Department to bully Congress into avoiding necessary cuts by warning of a weakened defense.

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said proposed cuts would be “devastating” and Andrew Shapiro, assistant secretary of state in its Bureau of Political Military Affairs, said that the 2012 funding bill for State Department and foreign operations – proposed to be cut by 8 percent in the full Senate Appropriations Committee and by 18 percent by the House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations subcommittee – would compromise national security.

But these proposed cuts come after a decade in which the State and Defense departments’ budgets have ballooned to hundreds of billions of dollars more than what they were pre-911. The national security budget of the United States for FY 2012 totals around $1.2 trillion, or approximately one-third of the entire budget. Much of this has been in so-called “hollow growth,” like personnel costs and expanded diplomatic services.

Furthermore, both appropriations committees approved the administration’s separate request for $8.7 billion for the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, which actually increases overall funding for the department and foreign assistance compared to last year. So the proposed cuts are more about the wars crowding out budget space than about Congress actually imposing serious cuts.

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Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for Antiwar.com.