Dec 11, 2013
Throwing Money at the Pentagon
Posted on Mar 21, 2012
By William Hartung, TomDispatch
Keep in mind that if Romney were to follow through on these costly undertakings and others like them, it would only add to the good old-fashioned waste and fraud that’s the norm of Pentagon contracting these days. As former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen pointed out, the post-9/11 national security spending binge played havoc with any sense of fiscal discipline at the Pentagon, eliminating the need to make “hard choices” or “limit ourselves” in significant ways. In his former position as Pentagon procurement czar, Under Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter acknowledged that “in a decade of ever-increasing defense budgets… it was always possible for our managers… when they ran into a technical problem or a difficult choice to reach for more money.”
Romney’s Republican math would ensure that this will continue. Defense giants like Lockheed Martin, whose F-35 combat aircraft has more than doubled in price over original projections, must be salivating at the prospect of another cost-overrun presidency, which would result in soaring profits and few punishments.
And let’s not forget the “spend more” brigades in the Republican House, led by Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA). Having received more than three quarters of a million dollars in campaign contributions from weapons contractors since 2009, he has never met a weapons system he didn’t like. Under a Republican administration, McKeon and his pork-barrel pals in Congress would have free rein to jack up spending on weapons and personnel with little concern for the impact on the deficit.
If a Republican president were to follow through on his campaign pledges, massive Pentagon increases and a dogged resistance to raising revenues would also result in major hits to every other item in the federal budget, from education to infrastructure. According to a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Romney budget plan could cut domestic discretionary programs by as much as 50% over the next 10 years.
William D. Hartung is director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, a TomDispatch regular, and the author of “Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex.” (To listen to Timothy MacBain’s latest Tomcast audio interview in which Hartung discusses how to manipulate Pentagon budgets, click here, or download it to your iPod here.)
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Copyright 2012 William D. Hartung
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