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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Aha! Explaining away harm's way today

Posted by: Hammer / 10:06 AM

Via Kevin Drum we find this Michael Froomkin providing a better explanation for Smilin' Norm Coleman's refusal to fund veteran's care in the last supplemental appropriation for Iraq:
The Senate is voting today on a $1.5 billion extra appropriation for VA health care. The VA based its inadequate request in the current budget on the amount it needed in 2002, i.e. planning for medical care as if there were not a war in Iraq. Similarly, when the administration asked for a supplemental appropriation for Iraq -- having left it out of the budget to be able to claim the deficit was smaller than everyone knew it actually was -- Democratic Senator Patty Murry proposed adding more money for the VA. The administration said it wasn’t needed.

I suspect this is worse than incompetence: This shortfall may not be unexpected at all. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were intentional. By not appropriating money in the regular or even the supplemental Iraq appropriation, the administration avoided having to admit they expected any casualties in Iraq -- much less estimating how many there might be. (It also kept down the bottom line number in the supplemental.) And, in the classic Washington Monument Ploy, they could rest easy in knowledge that Congress would surely pony up the money when asked.

Smilin' Norm voted against increased VA funding because the beneficiaries weren't -- in his view -- in "harm's way today". Frankly, Froomkin's analysis makes a lot more sense than Coleman's nonsense, especially considering what prior supplemental funding measures have been used for: opening up national parks in Mississippi for natural gas production.

It's all about priorities. Getting around environmental protections in national parks is clearly more important than funding health care for injured veterans.


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