WASHINGTON -- With the U.S. House of Representatives scheduled to vote later today on a supplemental emergency spending package for Kosovo, the Concord Coalition warned against using the Social Security surplus to fund non-emergency additions to the defense budget.
Former U.S. Senators Warren Rudman (R-N.H.) and Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), co-chairs of the Concord Coalition, reiterated their position that supplemental spending packages must be reserved for true emergency spending, with emergency defined in the April 15 budget resolution as spending that is necessary, sudden, urgent, unforeseen and not permanent. Using this definition, regular additions to the defense budget, such as military pay and pension increases, do not qualify as emergency spending.
"The cost of the Kosovo-related emergency spending package will come out of the ‘off-budget' Social Security surplus. If we have to dip into the Social Security surplus to pay for this supplemental, we need to be particularly certain that the money is going for true emergency spending. Social Security money should not be used to fund a general increase in the defense budget," Rudman said.
"While I favor strengthening the defense budget under the normal budget process, I am concerned that Congress is getting ready to use the Kosovo spending bill as a stealth device for regular spending increases without regard to the discretionary spending caps. By doing so, Congress is avoiding the tough choices and hindering its ability to save current and future budget surpluses for Social Security. We cannot afford to head down the slippery slope of using emergency funding packages as catch-alls for regular spending that ought to be paid for via the appropriations process, " Nunn said.
"Congress must not use the legitimate need for a Kosovo-related emergency spending to make permanent increases in the defense budget. Regular defense spending for items such as military pay and pension increases should be properly accounted for through the regular appropriations process, not paid for using the Social Security surplus," said Concord Coalition Policy Director Robert Bixby.