Congress Sees New War on ISIS as Ticket Out of Sequestration

Hawks See Chance to Hike Pentagon Spending

“When America has a visible enemy, America usually unites,” noted an upbeat Sen. Bill Nelson (D – FL). And unity in Congress means runaway military spending.

The White House declaration that “we are at war” with ISIS is an extremely welcome sign to Congressional hawks, not just because they’re really into war, but also because it’s a great excuse to ditch sequestration and start hiking spending anew.

“We should have found a way to get rid of sequester long ago,” noted Senate Armed Services Chair Carl Levin (D – MI), who expressed hope that the new war “will help a little bit” with that. Sens. John McCain (R – AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R – SC) both declared anything short of a full end to spending caps a “great disservice” to the country, and a threat to the war goals.

Absent in all of this talk is that Congress has basically been ignoring those caps in the first place, and has kept increasing Pentagon spending all along, just at a slightly slower rate. Now, the hawks see a chance to really open the floodgates.

Even conservative estimates are that the new war will cost $15-$20 billion per year, and that’s not including the increasingly likely ground operations or any other incidentals.

With escalations coming in every week or two, costs could quickly spiral further out of control, which is exactly where the budget committee prefers them, a chance to flex their political muscle with lucrative new military spending for their districts, and a return to the “good old days” of war, when people weren’t really paying attention to what it all cost.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of