Disgusting: Bush threatens to lay off 150,000 military base personnel if he doesn't get his war money
The Bush administration is threatening that it will issue furlough notices to up to 150,000 civilian workers at military bases in mid-December if Congress does not approve unrestricted Iraq funding immediately. As part of this campaign, the Pentagon is distributing a document warning that the Army may cease to function if it does not receive the funds now. (View the document here.)
This is just craven. The President signed a $471 funding bill for defense spending a WEEK ago. The bill even has a provision to shift money to the war in it "from other Pentagon accounts." You can argue about the relative wisdom of that. However, to tell 150,000 military families that they're going to be laid off DURING CHRISTMAS when there's ample money to keep all critical military operations afloat is maybe the most crass thing I've ever seen this Administration do.
Jack Murtha referred to this in a press conference today:
MURTHA: While Congress is working to improve the quality of life for our troops, this administration is reversing these efforts with this political document. You talk about morale, when they make statements like, “We’re going to lay-off people,” there’s thousand of people throughout the country that don’t need to be laid-off and shouldn’t be laid-off and they’re worrying them — those folks. This reduces the morale of the people throughout the country […]
I don’t like to think this, but it’s almost like a Rumsfeld-like prediction here — a Rumsfeld-like. I thought we’d gotten rid of Secretary Rumsfeld, but this really worries me that there would be such a political document […]
There’s seven months’ backlog at the depots — seven months’ backlog. In other words, there’s seven months’ work still in the depots, fully funded. They talked about IEDs the other day. We already funded over $3 billion for IEDs in a big unobligated (inaudible). This is a political document. They’re scaring people. They’re scaring the families of the troops with this document. That’s the thing that’s so despicable about what they’re doing.
The real truth is that if war funding was constrained and they had to cut nonessential programs to keep it going, their beloved defense contactors who are making useless systems would have to wait for their hundreds of millions of dollars. That is unacceptable. What is perfectly acceptable is playing a game of chicken with 150,000 men and women who've made the choice to serve their country. It's a contemptible little game being played with people's lives.
Amazingly enough, they're not even hiding this gambit. ThinkProgress notes today's White House press gaggle:
QUESTION: So this is a way to remind Congress that you want them to pass this bill?
PERINO: That’s exactly what that was.
QUESTION: So you’re making them suffer –
PERINO: I’m making the Democrats suffer?
QUESTION: No, you’re making the civilians who work for the Defense –
PERINO: Oh, no, it is not us who are making any civilians suffer.
QUESTION: There ought to be –
PERINO: We are calling on Congress to –
QUESTION: How many billions have we spent already for the Defense Department?
PERINO: The Defense Department says that they need this funding in order to keep the war running, as well as to keep these civilians…
QUESTION: Maybe they don’t want the war to keep running.
There it is, an admission that they are needlessly using 150,000 civilian Army personnel's livelihoods as a political football. This goes beyond 24% territory. I don't know how ANYONE could have the slightest respect for such ghouls.