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Bush Pushes For Big Increase in Military Spending - 2002-02-04


While his 2003 budget was being distributed in Washington, President Bush was on the road making his case for a big increase in defense spending. He went to an air force base in Florida to press congress to adopt his plan for the biggest increase in military funding in a generation.

Standing in front of servicemen and women in camouflage uniforms, the president sent a message to congress. He said America is at war and the military must be given all the resources it needs.

"This cause, this historic moment, this great opportunity to fight for freedom and to promote the peace for the long term requires a strong military. And we must keep it strong with new investments in equipment. And we must keep it strong by attracting and retaining the best and the brightest," the president said.

As he stood before the crowd, Mr. Bush focused on his role as commander-in-chief. He said Congress needs to understand that defending America must be the number one budget priority.

"Our men and women deserve the best weapons, the best equipment and the best training. And therefore I have asked congress for a one year increase of more than $48 billion for national defense the largest increase in a generation," President Bush said.

The crowd at Eglin Air Force Base roared its approval. The president said they have his complete confidence. And he said congress must show its faith in the military at a time of trial.

"We are unified in Washington on winning this war. One way to express our unity is for congress to set the military budget for the defense of the United States as the number one priority and fully fund my request," Mr. Bush stressed.

Winning support in congress for an increase in military spending should be fairly easy, especially with the president's public approval ratings topping 80 percent. The big issue is how to pay for it.

In his speech, President Bush did not mention the cuts in some popular domestic programs, such as highway construction and job training, that could be needed to offset a big jump in spending for defense and homeland security.

Democrats are already signaling a battle on some of these cuts, saying they want to delay the tax reductions approved last year to make sure there is enough revenue to meet the government's other obligations.

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