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Groups Urge Congress on Wasteful Pentagon Spending

Today, twenty-four groups from the left, right and middle send a letter recommending specific actions Congress can take to reduce wasteful spending at the Pentagon.

p wasteThe letter was sent to the House and Senate Armed Services Committee members, who will be considering the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) after the elections. The NDAA is the bill that specifies what the Pentagon can, and can’t, spend money on.

The Pentagon and some members of Congress are complaining (yet again) that the military doesn’t have enough money. But we know that isn’t true.

Every year the Pentagon wastes tens of billions of our tax dollars – and most “fiscally conservative” Republicans don’t even blink an eye. If you want to spend a trillion and a half dollars on a plane that doesn’t work – sign them up!

Of course, these are the same Republicans who want to cut funding for SNAP (food stamps), the National Institutes of Health, Social Security, road and bridge upkeep, and all the other things that keep us safe and alive every day in order reduce the deficit.

Specifically, the groups urge lawmakers to:

  • Stop overfunding the Pentagon’s “emergency” war spending slush fund
  • Not buy any more F-35’s than has already been authorized (you know, the planes that don’t work)
  • Only buy two of the (very sinkable) Littoral Combat Ships
  • Not increase funding to modify a tank the Pentagon doesn’t want.

The war funding slush fund (also called the Overseas Contingency Operations account), has been used by Congress and the Pentagon to avoid spending reductions and pay for their pet projects. Last month the Pentagon even tried to use the slush fund to buy more of those planes that don’t work!

Experts have wanted to see the other programs cancelled for years.

Clearly, the Pentagon doesn’t need any more money – those who say otherwise are simply playing politics. However, these recommendations will go a long way towards saving taxpayer dollars and keeping the Pentagon’s budget in check.

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So, Where Are My Taxes Going? Oh, Right, The Pentagon.

With all of the hubbub about the blood moon and the end of the world and all that happening on tax day (I knew it!), I’m guessing not a lot of us took the time to examine how our tax dollars are spent. But really, at this point it should come as a surprise to no one, well, almost no one, that the Pentagon takes the biggest slice.

bloodmoon1According to the National Priorities Project, 27 cents of every tax dollar goes to the Pentagon (by comparison, only two cents of every dollar is spent on education). To put this in better perspective, last year 57% of all discretionary funds – those voted on by Congress – went to the Pentagon.

Of course, some Republicans say that the historically high sums of money the United States is spending on the Pentagon isn’t enough. They say we need to spend even more – at the expense of everything else in the budget, of course.

The problem is that by all accounts this has no basis in reality, whatsoever.

On Monday the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute released its latest report on military spending worldwide. It found that the United States is spending more than three times what China is spending on its military and more than seven times what Russia is spending. Hardly a reason to start cutting food stamps and Medicare. And if you put all of the United States’ perceived “threat nations’” (Russia, China, Iran, Syria and North Korea) military expenditures together, we still outspend them more than two to one.

So what gives?

Well, if you ask me, it seems like the Republicans realize they have to be for something. I mean, they’re already against fair taxes on the superrich, marriage equality, the Affordable Care Act, puppies, immigration reform, and pretty much anything that helps at-risk kids, the elderly, and working families.

Other think it might have to do with defense contractors shoveling millions of dollars into their pockets.

Either way, the Republicans are going to keep pushing for a bigger Pentagon budget unless we do something about it.  

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Gunning for Social Security – Republicans Want to Cut Entitlement Programs to Pay for More Pentagon Spending

Now that the government shutdown and debt-ceiling crises have been averted for a few months, Republican “defense hawks” like Sen. John McCain and Rep. Buck McKeon will be looking for ways to remove spending caps on the Pentagon that were mandated by the Budget Control Act (BCA). Seniors and the disabled better watch out.

The BCA was passed by Congress in 2011 to prevent another debt-ceiling crisis (sound familiar?). It instituted mandatory caps on discretionary government spending – defense (the Pentagon) and non-defense. Non-defense spending includes everything from education and housing assistance to infrastructure improvements and NASA.  

RamboMost Republicans now insist that Congressional budget agreements stay within the BCA spending caps. So the only way “defense hawks” will be able to boost the Pentagon’s budget is by taking funds from other places, in this case entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – which were not included in the BCA.

While many Democrats have scoffed at the idea, there is reason to worry. Some Democratic lawmakers, including President Obama, have suggested they are willing to make a deal with Republicans in return for new tax revenue or funds for other programs. This is bad news.

Republicans have long sought to increase Pentagon spending at the expense of domestic spending. And cutting entitlement programs is always at the top of their to-do list. The upcoming budget conference, which is being chaired by Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray, is where they will likely try to cut a deal.

Everyone knows that the Pentagon has a long history of waste and financial mismanagement (like this, and this, and don’t forget this).  For these “defense hawks” to say that the Pentagon needs more money is deceitful at best; but to try and steal that money from the elderly and disabled is downright disgusting.  

Read the story here.

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Even Conservative Groups Find $1.9 Trillion in Cuts

Everyone Agrees

Everyone Agrees

Two free-market groups, the National Taxpayer’s Union and R Street have released a report outlining a strategy to achieve nearly $1.9 trillion in savings. That’s nearly two trillion dollars that could be used to shore up our crumbling public school system and job training programs for the millions out of work. The document, Defending America, Defending Taxpayers proposes 100 specific recommendations to cut Pentagon spending by eliminating or reducing unnecessary weapons systems, trimming compensation and civilian personnel, and process reforms within the Pentagon.  It’s no surprise the dysfunction in Washington has lead to this mess, but the growing consensus on the left and right that the Pentagon needs a run on the anti-pork treadmill should be something all politicians can agree on.

To read the article, click here.