11 September 2001>News Stories>Bush: No Limit for Security Budget

Bush: No Limit for Security Budget

Lawrence Knutson . Chicago Tribune . 26 January 2002

WASHINGTON -- Calling for the largest increase in defense spending in 20 years and asking Congress to nearly double the money for homeland security, President Bush promised Saturday to "spend what it takes to win the war against terrorism."

In a preview of the State of the Union address he will deliver to a joint meeting of Congress Tuesday evening, Bush also promised to work to improve the climate in which jobs are created, and to "fight the recession and build economic security."

The president's weekly radio address highlighted announcements made earlier in the week.

Democrats, meanwhile, noted that the once mighty river of budget surpluses has been reversed and that budget deficits now are projected for the rest of Bush's term in office.

Bush said that for the budget year that begins Oct. 1 he will ask Congress for an extra $48 billion for U.S. military forces, the largest increase in defense spending in 20 years. Another $38 billion will go toward homeland security, Bush said.

"Every budget reflects fundamental choices, and my administration has made choices to fit the times," he said. "We'll protect our people in every way necessary, and we will carry on the campaign against global terror until we achieve our goal: The peace that comes from victory."

Bush said the effort to root out terrorists with a capability to strike around the world will be neither short nor inexpensive. The armed forces will need the best high-tech equipment available to succeed, he said.

"My budget calls for ... investing in more precision weapons, missile defenses, unmanned vehicles and high-tech equipment for our soldiers on the ground. I will also seek another pay increase for the men and women who wear our country's uniform," he said. "We will spend what it takes to win the war against terrorism."

He also promised to complete the effort to enhance airport security, strengthen the border patrol, hire another 300 FBI agents and pump cash into efforts to better equip state and local firefighters, police and emergency response teams.

In the Democrats' radio address broadcast an hour later, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., applauded Bush's efforts to curb terrorism, but suggested the nation needs a quick economic boost.

"In the war on terrorism, President Bush and his national security team continue to do a superb job," Daschle said.

"But there are also reasons to be concerned. Last week, we learned that the massive surplus we predicted a year ago has shrunk by four trillion dollars. We are expected to be running deficits for the remainder of President Bush's term," he said.

The president pledged to steady the troubled economy by building a climate that encourages job creation. He urged the Democratic-controlled Senate to approve an economic stimulus package.

The president returned to Washington from Camp David Saturday afternoon. Bush and his wife, Laura, planned to attend the annual Alfalfa Club dinner, a closed-door event Saturday night featuring hundreds of Washington's top power brokers from both political parties.