The Iraq Study Group certainly got its 24 hours of media attention. But for all of the coverage, there is one really good recommendation that was all but ignored. This would be Recommendation #72, the introduction to which begins, "The public interest is not well served by the government's preparation, presentation, and review of the budget for the war in Iraq."
The Iraq Study Group points out that "most of the costs of the war show up not in the normal budget request but in requests for emergency supplemental appropriations." Whereas the House and Senate Armed Services committees spend most of the year studying and debating the normal Pentagon budget, emergency supplemental appropriations bypass these committees and are rushed through the Congressional process.
In addition, the Bush administration presents its Iraq budgetary requests "in a confusing manner, making it difficult for both the general public and members of Congress to understand the request or to differentiate it from counterterrorism operations around the world or operations in Afghanistan. Detailed analyses by budget experts are needed to answer what should be a simple question: 'How much money is the President requesting for the war in Iraq?'"
Thus, Recommendation #72: "Costs for the war in Iraq should be included in the President's annual budget request, starting in FY 2008: the war is in its fourth year, and the normal budget process should not be circumvented. Funding requests for the war in Iraq should be presented clearly to Congress and the American people. Congress must carry out its constitutional responsibility to review budget requests for the war in Iraq carefully and to conduct oversight."
Thank you bipartisan group of elders for presenting this recommendation. I hope that the new Democratic-controlled Congress insists that President Bush follow it, under threat of cutting off his funds. My only question is, Why wait until FY 2008; why not do it in January 2007?