Let’s see, pretty much everyone running for election in 2012 is barking about cutting spending, saving money, that sort of thing. It seems a popular tune these days. So course it is little surprise that after taking serious cuts last year, the State Department is actually asking for MORE money this year, ‘natch.
The fiscal 2013 budget request asks Congress for $51.6 billion for the State Department and USAID, which the administration describes as a 1.6 percent increase over fiscal 2012 levels in the latest appropriations bill.
Important to note for anyone who thinks our relations with China, India, Brazil or anywhere else we’re not at war with might matter, that $51.6 billion total includes $8.2 billion in the Overseas Contingency Operations account, which is meant to pay for State’s 5,500 mercenaries, chicken wings and Splenda in Iraq, plus expenses in Afghanistan (which we are still reconstructing just like we did in Iraq) and Pakistan. The State Department budget request is also kind enough to include about $5.5 billion in foreign military financing, I guess because weapons are about America’s only viable export product left. You can go nuts and read the entire budget request here.
“We know that this is a time of fiscal constraint and economic hardship for the American people,” said Hillary Clinton, “So we are seeking out every opportunity to work smarter and more efficiently.”
That efficiency no doubts include the indoor swimming pool, driving range, tennis court and bar inside the Embassy in Baghdad, plus the staff in Public Affairs in Washington whose job it is to compile weekly lists of my blog posts (State has a new lawyer assigned to my prosecution, everybody say hi! to Anne). Oh yes, another efficiency are the Hall Walkers at State, foreign service officers State wants to dump but won’t or can’t and who draw full salaries to do little or no work. The electronic controls on State’s computers that block Wikileaks sites are another efficiency, no doubt. A bunch of money is headed toward “social media” (Guys, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter accounts are free to sign up) and important diplomatic breakthroughs like “The 2012 Tag Challenge,” which “calls on technology enthusiasts from several nations to set their sleuthing skills loose on a mock gang of jewel thieves in an international search contest.” There’s a $5000 prize for that one, whatever the hell the point of it is. And hey, the State Department is now getting ready to offer Chrome as an in-house browser, and that’s free too, right? As a true friend of democracy, State also wants $1.3 billion in direct aid to the Egyptian military, plus more than $2 billion in aid to Pakistan.
But those are petty things, really, and limited to things I know of. Yet they illustrate an organization that, despite its request for more money and a place at the big peoples’ table, seems to also have plenty of time and money for petty things.
I’m sure Congress will approve State’s request for a budget increase. And the Beach Boys weren’t sad and old on the Grammy Awards.
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