Today the House of Representatives will send a strong message to America (er, rather, to their campaign contributors): It will still be business as usual at the Pentagon, and insane profits made from taxpayer dollars will still be up for grabs.
This afternoon, the House will vote on two bills that together would increase Pentagon spending beyond what it requested and prohibit the Pentagon from reshaping the military to meet 21st Century threats, which is necessary to make us safer, stronger, and support the troops.
The National Security and Job Protection Act, introduced by Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), is a proposal to eliminate sequestration, the congressional mechanism to automatically reduce government spending by more than $1 trillion. While West’s bill doesn’t say precisely how sequestration should be replaced, it takes Pentagon spending off the table. The bill explicitly prohibits “reductions to direct spending for the defense function.”
The other bill, a Continuing Resolution (CR), not only kicks the out-of-control spending can down the road another six months (safely past the elections), but also increases Pentagon funding by .612 percent. While this might seem like a miniscule amount, because the Pentagon’s budget is more than half a trillion dollars, this equates to a spending increase of more than $3 billion. Fiscal responsibility? Anyone?
Of course, neither bill does anything to rein in runaway spending at the Pentagon. In fact, the CR would force the DoD to keep equipment it says it doesn’t need. The bill explicitly says the Air Force cannot “retire, divest, realign, or transfer aircraft,” and that the Army cannot retire the C-23 Sherpa aircraft it reportedly no longer needs.
Not only are the bills laden with pork, they are also filled with half-truths as scare tactics. For example, West’s bill, citing an analysis by the House Armed Services Committee, claims that if sequestration occurs, “200,000 soldiers and Marines [will be] separated from service.” However, the truth is that not a single soldier will be cut if sequestration occurs because military personnel have already been exempted from sequestration.
Both of these pieces of legislation are little more than political stunts. A vote for either is a vote against reducing wasteful government spending and for lining the pockets of the fat cats running their corporations on taxpayer dollars.
The sequestration threat was meant to force Congress to find ways to save taxpayer dollars throughout government—including at the Pentagon. Any member who votes for these bills today will reveal they have no intention of taking on wasteful spending. In the face of today’s economic and fiscal realities, Americans deserve better. We hope some lawmakers will stand up, vote NO, and call for a little sanity.
Ben Freeman is an investigator with the Project On Government Oversight.