Friday, 7 October 1988
UNIVERSITY PORK WAS CUT OUT OF THE FY89 DEFENSE APPROPRIATION
passed by Congress last Friday! The battle against earmarking
research funds for specific universities was led by Sens. Nunn
(D-GA) and Danforth (D-MO). Danforth waged a similar struggle in
1986, which briefly succeeded by the narrowest of margins--only
to be reversed a week later (WN 20 Jun 86). This year, earmarks
had been kept out of the Defense Authorization and Appropriations
bills of both Houses but $46M in university earmarks mysteriously
appeared in the version coming out of Conference. An angry Sen.
Nunn introduced an amendment requiring all spending for colleges
and universities to be awarded using competitive procedures and
requiring DOD to report back on any hidden pork. It passed
easily in both houses. It is the second victory this year over
university pork. But the first, in the DOE, was purchased at the
price of no new starts (WN 13 May 88).
This may signal a new
attitude in Congress. Senator Nunn pointed out to his colleagues
that, "If we accept this earmarking, every Senator will be
expected to deliver funds in the future for their universities."
. SDI WAS FUNDED AT THE AUTHORIZED LEVEL OF $4.1B,
slightly above last year's level, if you ignore inflation. This
is the same level that the President objected to when he vetoed
the first bill, but Congress removed the "fences" it had imposed
in the earlier version to protect long-range research
(WN 6 May 88). It was
a classic face-saving move, since in exchange
Carlucci agreed to behave as if the fences were still there.
3. MEANWHILE, SDIO IS OFFERING PHASE I AT A NEW SALE PRICE.
In joint hearings before the Armed Services Committees, the retiring
Gen. Abrahamson listened to effusive praise from the same people
who blocked his fourth star and consistently denied his funding
requests. He then described a revised Phase I architecture that
would put less in space and more in ground-based interceptors.
Pentagon acquisition chief, Robert Costello, said this would
reduce the price to a mere $69B--half the estimate 4 months ago.
But Sen. Nunn pointed out that the price always goes down when
the Pentagon is making the sale. It goes back up on delivery.
4. PHASE I IS NO "PEACE SHIELD."
In House testimony on Tuesday,
Richard Perle, the Washington novelist who used to work for the
Pentagon, described Phase I as a cheaper alternative than rail-
mobile launchers or hardening to protect our missile fleet. Perle
said a system that is 50% effective would be ample deterrence. A
START treaty would achieve the same efficiency and save the $69B.
5. THE DEFAULT COST OF THE GUARANTEED STUDENT LOAN PROGRAM
is over half of its annual budget, which is running about $3B. It
is a serious concern to Congress. But Rep. Paul Henry (R-MI)
notes that defaults occur overwhelmingly in institutions that do
not require high school diplomas, such as beautician schools.