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Bush Seeks Budget Hike For Defense


January 24, 2004

Washington - President George W. Bush will ask Congress to approve $401.7 billion in defense spending for the budget year that begins in October, a 7 percent increase over this year, the Pentagon announced Friday.

The money does not include the cost of fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Pentagon is spending about $1 billion a week in Iraq and about $1 billion a month in Afghanistan.

If, as expected, operations are still under way in those countries when the 2005 budget year begins Oct. 1, the administration presumably will have to ask Congress to appropriate extra billions of dollars.

In announcing the 2005 budget total, the Pentagon made no mention of the war costs.

"This budget builds upon past work to provide for a ready force made up of the talents and skills needed in our new national security environment," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in a written statement.

Rumsfeld said the budget reflects Bush's commitment to prosecuting a global war on terrorism.

The Pentagon provided no details of its proposed budget. Those are to be made public Feb. 2.

Rumsfeld said the 2005 budget priorities include investment in quality-of-life programs for troops, improved intelligence and spending to ensure the combat readiness of U.S. troops.

One year ago, when the Pentagon announced its proposed budget for the current year, it projected that spending for 2005 would be $399.8 billion.

The proposed fiscal 2005 budget marks the seventh consecutive year of increased defense spending after the budget reached a post-Cold War low point in 1998, said Steven Kosiak, a defense budget analyst for the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington, D.C. research group.

If the entire amount is enacted, Bush administration defense budgets - exclusive of emergency Iraq supplemental spending - will have increased 23 percent in real purchasing power over the last proposed Clinton defense budget in 2001, Kosiak said.

"The big question is how long can this be sustained in the face of ballooning budget deficit figures and baby boomer retirements late this decade," he said.


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