Defense bill still has too much pork
Posted by sanityinjection on September 29, 2009
President Obama has cast himself as a budget reformer opposed to handouts for special interests and lobbyists. The reality has been somewhat different.
The pending defense budget bill offers a good example. Last month the President told the VFW convention, “If Congress sends me a defense bill loaded with a bunch of pork, I will veto it.” And indeed, the Administration did press successfully to have funding removed for extra F-22s and Presidential helicopters that the Pentagon doesn’t want.
However, the bill still includes all kinds of stuff the Pentagon didn’t ask for, according to Jeffrey Smith of the Washington Post. Now the White House is praising it with faint damns and it seems likely Obama will sign the bill because it includes the funding needed for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But consider the price tag: $1.7 billion for a destroyer DoD didn’t request. $2.5 billion for 10 C-17 cargo planes that aren’t needed. $3 billion shifted from operations and maintenance to projects the Pentagon did not request. All of this of course comes from legislators trying to steer money and jobs to companies and projects in their states. Funny, though, last time I checked the US military was more than just a government jobs program. Some of these Senators and Congressmen would happily fund military trinoculars with three eyeholes or fatigues with three sleeves and three pant legs; they could care less about giving our military the right tools to do its job. And it’s not a partisan issue: Republicans and Democrats are both guilty.
Where is the threatened Presidential veto over this waste?
I am a long-time, vocal supporter of defense spending. I believe a strong national defense should be our number one budget priority, and I don’t mind running up the deficit if necessary when wars need to be fought. But those of us who advocate for defense spending have a duty to vigorously oppose waste as well. I would much rather see legislators turning down Pentagon requests on the grounds that they are too expensive than forcing our military to buy things they do not need!