My latest column at Center for American Progress examines the omnibus appropriations bill that Congress passed yesterday. The challenge of covering legislation like the omnibus is finding a way to tell a coherent story about a very long bill that is essentially a list of government programs and how much money each will receive for the year. I chose to focus on some of the key investments in the bill, to try shedding some light on what the bill will mean for our economy. From the column:
The omnibus reverses some of the most damaging sequester cuts, but not all of them. The omnibus also makes a few excellent investments in our economy, and it is certainly better than allowing the full sequester cuts to continue for another year. This column focuses on four major areas of economic investment: infrastructure, early childhood education, scientific research, and job training. It also examines the smaller but very important long-term investment in preventing lead poisoning. Altogether, the omnibus delivers mixed results for these sectors, primarily because it faces restrictions from a spending cap that is simply too low to enable the investment our economy needs.
The whole column is posted here.
“You fall in the damn water and you’re wearing water-colored camouflage. What the hell is that?”
That’s from an unidentified Navy sailor pointing out the problems with the Navy’s blue camouflage uniforms, one of ten different types of camouflage used by the U.S. military. There used to be just two patterns – green for forests and brown for deserts. Then the services decided they each needed their own camouflage patterns, and paid to develop and outfit their personnel with the ten varieties we have today.
That’s going to catch the eye. (Wikimedia Commons)
There’s a lot to shake your head at here, but the Navy’s blue uniforms really take the cake. Even if the sailors blend in, the big grey ship is going to stand out. As the sailor points out above, all the blue uniforms are is a safety hazard.
A lot of this seems to come back to service pride – the Marines refused to share their design – and also the desire for commanders to make a mark on their institution. I once heard the explanation that new uniform designs are a visible way to have an accomplishment, when changing deep institutional biases might just lead to failure and frustration.
But if the military can spend all this money on fashion, it does suggest that there’s room to cut the defense budget.
The President has released his budget for the 2014 fiscal year, and the House and Senate have passed their budgets as well. None of these will ever implement a dime of taxing or spending – the budget never has that authority. So do they matter at all, or is this all for show?