By BEN FREEMAN
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled his fiscal year 2013 budget this morning, which, as The Hill writes, "would shield the Pentagon from nearly $500 billion in automatic cuts and roll back some of the $487 billion reduction approved in last year’s Budget Control Act." This budget ignores what many in Ryan’s own party have known for years: the Pentagon is wasting billions of taxpayer dollars.
The Congressional Research Service debunked McKeon’s myth earlier this year, noting that “the use of the term ‘hollow force’ is inappropriate under present circumstances,” and while McKeon and Ryan won’t admit it, many of their Republican colleagues are well aware of the egregious waste and inefficiencies in the Pentagon bureaucracy.
For instance, as reported by Congressional Quarterly, earlier this month Senator John McCain (R-AZ) pointed out that “Over the last decade the Army embarked on a series of developmental programs and because of unrealistic requirements, unanticipated costs or poor contracting strategy, had to be descoped, rebaselined or cancelled outright. Our estimates are around $300 billion were spent that never became operational equipment” (Emphasis POGO’s).
Senator Grassley (R-IA), recently sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, calling attention to 16 Pentagon Inspector General reports that found “egregious waste and misconduct at the Department of Defense,” which Grassley deemed “scandalous and disgraceful.” Unless action is taken to rectify these problems, $735 million taxpayer dollars will be lost, according to Grassley.
But, $735 million pales in comparison to the cuts that Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) called for in his “Back in Black” plan, which outlined more than $1 trillion in Pentagon budget cuts over the next 10 years.
For our part, POGO and Taxpayers for Common Sense (TCS) identified nearly $600 billion worth of opportunities for savings in national security.
Coburn’s plan, the POGO / TCS plan, and many others from across the ideological spectrum show that billions of dollars of waste in the Pentagon’s more than half trillion dollar budget can be cut without endangering U.S. national security. Thus, any budget—whether authored by Democrats or Republicans—must include reductions in profligate Pentagon spending to reduce the federal deficit, which the Tea Party’s Rand Paul (R-KY) and Admiral Mike Mullen have called the top threat to national security.
Taxpayers looking to protect the nation should oppose the Ryan plan and any budget that does not include cuts to wasteful Pentagon spending. If Paul Ryan, Congress, and the President continue to let the Pentagon spend with impunity, the only things that will be hollow are taxpayer wallets.
Ben Freeman is a POGO investigator.