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Edited by Christian Lowe | Contact

PENTAGON BUDGET BLACKMAIL

Give us more money, or soldiers aren't going to get paid. That's the cynical game the Pentagon's leadership has been playing with the Army's budget in recent months. And now, it's crunch time.

rummy_what.jpgSince the fall, Rumsfeld & Co. have been dipping into the Army's day-to-day funds -- like money for soldiers' paychecks -- and then daring Congress not to make up the difference with a second, "supplemental" pile of cash.

The tab comes due this Spring, Defense Daily reports. The Army needs $41 billion of that supplemental kitty by then, or else it is going to go broke, without cash left to pay G.I.s.

Already, the service has pulled forward some $11 billion in funds from the third and fourth quarters of its [fiscal year 2005] budget, a senior Army budget officer said at a briefing on Friday.

“I think it’s early May when we run out of money,” the official said. The most money is being spent on operations and maintenance. “What we’re doing right now is taking monies from the fourth quarter and the third quarter…we’re already spending, you know, my September paycheck.”

“We’ve pulled in about the last five and a half months to spend in the first six and a half.”

That same official said that this sort of spending has no practical effect on soldiers, according to Defense Daily. And he's probably right, for the moment. What politician would vote to deprive a soldier of his paycheck?

But key members of Congress, like Sen. John McCain, are getting increasingly fed up with this backdoor effort to add tens of billions to the defense budget by essentially holding G.I.'s livelihood hostage. Sooner or later, things are going to come to a head.

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