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Devil's bargain


Attempts to reduce the federal deficit are supposedly Congress' priority. But the military budget the House passed last week gives the lie to that notion. Even though they agreed to do so last year, Republicans -- and some Democrats -- can't bring themselves to cut Pentagon spending when push comes to vote.

The House-approved military spending bill of $642 billion is $8 billion higher than called for in the deficit-reduction deal President Obama and congressional Republicans reached last summer. The measure is larded with objectionable provisions that have little to do with essential defense, but are driven by political ideology or a desire to keep the military-industrial complex humming.

The bill would fund a missile-defense site on the East Coast that the Pentagon doesn't want. It would bar cuts in the nuclear arsenal. It would stymie the Obama Administration's hopes of closing the military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

This bad bill, piled high with expensive and unwise wishes, would prevent the Air Force from closing bases without a review by Congress. That would tie the military's hands in managing its own facilities and give too much authority to Congress, which on the evidence of this spending bill can't be trusted.


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