‘Support Our Troops’ – Republican-style
From the Austin American-Statesman:
Fort Hood, the nation's largest military installation, is cutting many of its contract services, including groundskeeping and pest control, because of what it calls a "severe budget crunch" hitting Army posts across the country.
The massive post also announced a civilian hiring freeze in a statement last week. The statement doesn't reveal how much the cuts will save or how many jobs could be affected. Dalena Kanouse, a spokes- woman for Fort Hood, said she could not provide details Wednesday.
Cutbacks like those at Fort Hood are happening at Army facilities across the country, said Ned Christensen, a spokesman for the Army Installation Management Agency, which oversees the money for operating 119 posts.
"The Army's at war," Christensen said. "And that's the primary place the funding is going."
Christensen said a stalled federal spending bill in Congress is contributing to the crunch. President Bush requested the $92.2 billion bill to fund war operations and other projects, but the House and Senate have yet to agree on a bill to send him.
U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, who represents Fort Hood, said those negotiations will probably be complete by Friday. He said once the bill passes, the squeeze at Fort Hood should abate.
"I don't believe there's much likelihood these cuts will go forward," he said.
But even when the money is approved, Christensen said, the Army's posts face a $530 million shortfall at the end of this fiscal year. [emphasis mine]
From the Houston Chronicle:
Fort Sam Houston has received 1,300 utility service termination notices for delinquent bill payments, which officials blamed on a major budget shortfall.
CPS Energy warned commanders at the post to pay $4.2 million by Wednesday or risk losing power. The post is three months behind on its bills, but both Army and utility officials said the two parties were talking and no cutoff was imminent.
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"Who would imagine us not paying our bill?" said Col. Wendy Martinson, Fort Sam Houston's garrison commander. "I worry about it. I can't sleep at night." [emphasis mine.] (So many Americans have this same problem, only they don't have an Uncle Sam to ride to the rescue. — Jenn)
The post, which trains medics, faces a $26 million budget shortfall this year – a problem that officials said is symptomatic of the financial woes facing posts worldwide.
Only commands at Fort Sam Houston funded by the Army Installation Management Agency are affected, which excludes Brooke Army Medical Center.
The installation management agency is wrestling with a $530 million deficit and is awaiting funding from a $94.5 billion supplemental appropriations bill. The Senate is set to vote on a revised supplemental bill following House approval earlier this week. The funds are intended for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as hurricane relief.
Martinson said the supplemental funding would be a temporary fix. To deal with the budget crunch, the post has fired 100 contract workers, frozen hiring, shut off cell phones and BlackBerry devices, turned in leased cars and stopped troops from using government credit cards. [emphasis mine]
Steve Oertwig, a spokesman for the installation management agency, said funding allocations from the supplemental bill would be prioritized on the basis of support for troops destined for the war zone, health and safety needs, and civilian payrolls for permanent civilian employees.
In the meantime, officials from CPS Energy and Fort Sam Houston are talking daily.
CPS officials said the shutoff notices were automatically issued by the utility's computer system.
Customer services director Sylvia Arnold said the utility would work to resolve the outstanding debt, as it does with other customers. She described the post as important to the utility and the community, and said it's not a high risk for nonpayment.
Democrats do support our military. We do it by questioning the right of an abusive government to send inadequate numbers of improperly-protected soldiers into harm's way under false pretenses. We do it by asking that they be allowed to do their job where most needed and to fight our real enemies where they are. (*cough, Afghanistan-Osama, cough*)
Democrats support our military by believing that to send young men and women to die in our name ought to be the option of last resort.
We support it by saying fiscal irresponsibility is wrong, but even more so when money is being wasted hand over fist to pay for no-bid contracts awarded to friends and cronies of the administration to jobs formerly done by the military.
Democrats support our military by demanding that they adhere to the high moral standards that have always been the foundation of their good reputation around the world. We support them by insisting that they not lower themselves to the level of our enemies.
Democrats support our military by putting people first, not big business. We support it by not using our troops as background props for photo-ops when deep budget cuts to agencies that support those troops after they return home.
Democrats support our military by recognizing the reality of a lost cause, and knowing when it's time to bring our troops home.
We support it by stopping the hemorrhage rather than continuing to throw away more lives for pride's sake.