Union-Tribune

January 24, 2002

Bush to seek $48 billion boost in defense funds
President previews State of Union address, 2003 budget

By OTTO KREISHER 
COPLEY NEWS SERVICE 

WASHINGTON President Bush said yesterday he will ask for an
increase of more than $48 billion in defense spending, plus a
major increase for homeland security, when he submits his new
budget next month.

The boost would exceed the $33 billion increase in the current
defense funding over last year and nearly matches the $50
billion jump that a group of House Republicans told the
president earlier in the day the military needed.

In a speech to the Reserve Officers Association, Bush said the
war against terrorism will not end with Afghanistan. "Dangers
and sacrifices lie ahead," Bush said, adding that his duty is to
prepare the nation for that.

Previewing Tuesday's State of the Union address and the 2003
budget he will submit Feb. 4, Bush said: "The most basic
commitment of our government will be the security of our
country. We will win this war, we will protect our people and we
will work to renew the strength of our economy.

"Our first priority is the military . . . and that will be the priority
of the budget I submit" to Congress, Bush said.

The increase of more than $48 billion would be the largest jump
in defense spending in the past 20 years, and would include a
pay raise for the men and women in uniform.

"We will invest in more precision weapons, in missile defense, in unmanned vehicles, in high-tech equipment for soldiers on the ground," Bush said.

He said the "tools of modern war" are expensive. "But in order to win this war against terrorism, they are essential."

Because of the need to protect Americans from terrorist attacks,
Bush said, "the second priority in my budget will be a major new
increase in spending for homeland security."

The administration reportedly wants to double the spending on
homeland security from about $15 billion this year to $30
billion.

The additional money would help pay for:

More sky marshals on airliners.

8,000 National Guard troops at airports.

Antibiotics to treat a possible anthrax attack.

30,000 airport security workers.

300 FBI agents.

Deployment of Coast Guard vessels and aircraft to protect
seaports.

Investigation into the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Bush also called on Congress to "set aside all of the politics, all
the posturing" and find ways to help workers hurt by the
economic impact of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Jobs ought to be the central core of any economic development
plan" that Congress produces, Bush said.

Bush signed legislation yesterday waiving income-tax liability
for two years for the families of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks,
last fall's anthrax attacks and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

The legislation erases the federal income-tax liability for most of those families from 2000 and 2001, with a provision that
ensures a minimum of $10,000 in tax benefits to each family.

The new law shields from taxation employers' death benefits,
charitable payments to families and creditors' debt forgiveness.
It exempts the first $8.5 million of a victim's assets from the
federal estate tax.

The president's disclosures on his $2 trillion budget came a few
hours after a group of House Republicans, including Reps.
Duncan Hunter, R-El Cajon, and Randy Cunningham,
R-Escondido, told Bush the military needed an additional $50
billion a year.

Cunningham, a member of the House Appropriations
subcommittee on defense, said Hunter made the main
presentation at the White House meeting.

Hunter, chairman of the House Armed Services research and
development subcommittee, said $50 billion was the minimum
increase needed to replace worn out weapons and equipment,
replenish the stocks of precision munitions, improve combat
readiness and give service members a pay raise.

Hunter said an analysis prepared with the aid of the
Congressional Budget Office showed the military should buy 450
new airplanes and helicopters a year to replace aircraft that are
beyond their normal service life. The budget now pays for less
than 100.

The Navy needs to build 10 warships a year to keep the combat
fleet above the 300 considered the minimum necessary to carry
out global assignments. The budget now will build five.

The aging equipment is a key reason the figures on combat
readiness for Air Force and Navy aircraft have dropped
substantially in recent years, Hunter said.

Buying replacement weapons and equipment would require $30
billion more a year for procurement, Hunter said.

The analysis also showed the military needs $5 billion more for
munitions, $5 billion more to reverse the drop in readiness and
$10 billion more to help close the gap in pay between military
personnel and civilian workers.

The military has received pay raises well above the cost of living
each of the past two years, with increases up to 10 percent for
some service members this year.

The congressmen said Bush told them they would like what they
see in his new defense budget. The president also told them he
would request more supplemental appropriations to pay for the
war on terrorism, they said.

The defense budget now is $342 billion, including military
construction and Department of Energy defense programs. The
Pentagon also is getting about $17.3 billion of the $40 billion in
supplemental spending approved after Sept. 11.