Friday, January 30, 2009

White House Stimulates Purple House

With the Stimulus Plan now past the House, and headed to the Senate, some are already comparing total amounts to what Pres. Obama requested and what the House passed and the Senate is calling for. As of yet, not much detail beyond broad categorizations.

Of interest to this blog is the monies in the House Stimulus Package for Defense, about $8.8 billion of the $825 billion (~1%).
  • $350 million for research into using renewable energy for powering weapons and military bases (alternative energy projects);
  • $3.75 billion for new construction for hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers (remember Walter Reed or have we already forgotten);
  • $455 million to renovations to medical facilities (ditto);
  • $2.1 billion for repairs to military facilities (when have barracks been an issue?);
  • $1.2 billion for new housing construction (ditto);
  • $154 million to improve troop housing (ditto);
  • $360 million for new child development centers (military families and re-enlistment goals);
  • $400 million for new construction for Guard and Reserve units (Total Force goals);
  • $4.5 billion for USACE for environmental restoration, flood protection, hydro power and navigation infrastructure (Hurricanes Katrina, Rita);
  • $300 million to clean up closed military installations (and return them to civilian public use or for sale to private-tax paying, deficit reducing businesses).
Of course, like the balance of the Stimulus Package, these proposed expenditures are tied to the creation of jobs. The total package of $825 billion is billed as a "first step." However, including the military in the Stimulus Package has produced critics. The Cato Institute released a piece Defense Doesn't Need Stimulus, claiming that defense had more than enough money already and relating these expenditures to the F-22, etc.

I would agree that the defense budget is not a jobs program. Well, the Stimulus Package is mostly all about jobs (except for those parts about needed social services) and ready-to-go infrastructure. And the defense needs do offer shovel-ready infrastructure that is not defense industry weapons manufacture but concrete and sticks as evidenced by the categories above.

Right now, the Army is into Grow the Army (to the personnel levels set by Congress), Realignment, Global Positioning and Base Closures' remediation and cleanup for transfer or sale to the civilian sector (for bases going back to the 1988 first BRAC round). If you aren't aware of budget shortfalls in infrastructure needs, here are two blogs (Army Dollars Are Green and In Defense of a Budget) I did for another blog that recap the issues.

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