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Bush signs pentagon spending bill, vetoes health and education bill

In the comfortable confines of Air Force One, the President vetoed the health and education appropriations bill the Congress sent him, and signed a defense appropriations bill. The president whined that the health and education bill included $20 billion more than he wanted, but signed a $471 billion defense bill - a $40 billion increase over last year - with no comment.

This is despite the fact that this year's defense spending - combined with the $200 billion he has requested for the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan - puts the defense budget right at the top of historical spending on defense. This AP article cites a few examples of defense spending that is begging to be eliminated:

Much of the increase in the defense bill is devoted to procuring new and expensive weapons systems, including $6.3 billion for the next-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, $2.8 billion for the Navy's DD(X) destroyer and $3.1 billion for the new Virginia-class attack submarine.

Huge procurement costs are driving the Pentagon budget ever upward. Once war costs are added in, the total defense budget will be significantly higher than during the typical Cold War year, even after adjusting for inflation.

Advanced fighter planes, destroyers, and submarines are critical in our efforts to, um, fight decentralized cells of Islamic terrorists abroad. Right?

Some other funding that's ripe for cutting: billions for fighting the international drug trade. Blackwater hopes to pick some of that funding up. Even they know the occupation of Iraq won't last forever...

Update: Initial reporting on the veto indicated the signing of the defense bill and the vetoing of the health and education bill took place on Air Force One. Turns out, not quite true. From a reporter exchange with Dana Perino:

Reporter: Did you announce on the ground that he vetoed these bills, or is this the first announcement?

Perino: No, it happened right as we were walking out to the helicopter. So you can do a wire call after this if you want.

Reporter: He did at the White House before he left?

Perino: Yes, right before he put on his raincoat.

Via Salon's War Room.

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