There's a common theme underlying the botched reconstruction of Iraq, the botched response to Katrina (which Mr. Bush never mentioned), the botched drug program, and the nonexistent energy program. John DiIulio, the former White House head of faith-based policy, explained it more than three years ago. He told the reporter Ron Suskind how this administration operates: "There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus. ... I heard many, many staff discussions but not three meaningful, substantive policy discussions. There were no actual policy white papers on domestic issues."The military budget for 2006:
In other words, this administration is all politics and no policy. It knows how to attain power, but has no idea how to govern. That's why the administration was caught unaware when Katrina hit, and why it was totally unprepared for the predictable problems with its drug plan. It's why Mr. Bush announced an energy plan with no substance behind it. And it's why the state of the union — the thing itself, not the speech — is so grim.
WASHINGTON - President Bush's 2007 budget seeks a nearly 5 percent increase in Defense Department spending, to $439.3 billion, with significantly more money for weapons programs, according to senior Pentagon officials and documents obtained by The Associated Press.For New Orleans and Katrina relief:
Senior defense officials provided the totals on condition of anonymity because the defense budget was not being released publicly until Monday. The figures did not include about $50 billion that Bush administration officials said Thursday they would request as a down payment for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007. The administration said war costs for 2006 would total $120 billion. (emphasis added)
Donald Powell, the coordinator for rebuilding the Gulf Coast, confirmed that the administration would request $18 billion for that effort.Of that $120 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan, $50 billion is a "bridge" fund for early fiscal 2007. The balance is for emergency funding in fiscal 2006. Total spending on the war: $440 billion.
The money would push the total federal commitment for rebuilding to more than $100 billion, according to administration tallies. He said it probably would be the last such spending request for the current budget year. He said a detailed request would go to Congress within 10 days to 30 days.
Powell said he does not anticipate additional money for the region in the 2007 budget Bush planned to announce Monday.
Powell provided little detail about specifically what the money would be used for, saying it would include money for housing, roads and levees.
“That’s a lot of money,” he said, referring to the $100 billion.
Jim Wallis says budgets are moral documents; and I agree. And Mr. Powell is right: $100 billion is "a lot of money." But in context, the allocations challenge the moral stance of this administration. And politically, you have to wonder if the GOP imagines it can continue to carry the South even while it ignores the greatest catastrophe in the South in a century.
The state of the Union is grim; but, as ever, it is in our hands to do something about it.