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February 2005
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The Budget

Well, I spent some time looking over President Bush’s budget request, and my head hurts. The government spends so much money that it takes thousands of pages just to lay out the main categories of spending. And, of course, this will all change once Congress gets its hands on it and adds all the pork.
The short story: Bush ignored my suggestion to reduce the deficit by eliminating the drug war budget.
The Good News: Most of the “Byrne Grant” fund that supports some of the worst of the drug task forces around the country has been cut in the President’s budget (see Scott at Grits for Breakfast who has been following this very closely. There will be efforts to reinstate this budget.
Bad News: The vast majority of drug war functions will continue with no reduction, or even slight increases in the President’s budget, despite meeting the criteria of ineffective programs.
DEA – Increase of 4% in their budget, including some adjustments:

  1. DEA’s plan for rightsizing its overseas presence, including additional resources to address the threat of Afghan heroin and to operate effectively in Central Asia and the Middle East;
  2. vital
    resources to enhance intelligence capabilities to more fully
    exploit DEA’s ability to gather, analyze, and share intelligence
    information; and
  3. investigations of drug trafficking and
    money laundering PTOs.

Yeah, send the DEA to Afghanistan. That’ll work.
Some offset will be provided by reductions in some areas:

  • elimination of vehicle support
    for the State and Local Task Forces;
  • transfer of the
    Marijuana Eradication program to the Office of Justice Programs
    (OJP) to be managed as a grant program [at a cost of $19 million];
  • elimination
    of the DEA’s Demand Reduction Program;
  • reduction
    of the Mobile Enforcement Teams by approximately 50 percent;
  • reduction to non-operational administrative training
    resources; and
  • savings associated with implementing Etravel.

Of course, that’s only one part of the drug war in the budget. In fact, the entire budget is riddled with drug war costs. Things like the Southwest Border Prosecutor Initiative (increased), Andean counterdrug initiative (increased), Drug Testing Initiative (increased), Drug-free communities program (increased), High intensity drug trafficking areas (transferred, with budget, to Justice), International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (increased), National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign (increased).
Total Federal Drug Budget: Increase of $268 million.
Yeah, that’s the way to show those costly, ineffective, federal programs who is boss!

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