I was glad to read the post that Representatives Frank and Paul published at Huffington Post. It's one of the few examples of actual (and potentially) useful bipartisanship. For all of those people screaming about bloated and/or runaway government, those same people tend to be as silent as the grave when it comes to the Department of Defense budget. And when they aren't silent, they suggest that cuts to the DoD budget is tantamount to attacks on our troops (which is fatuous indeed). I wish the Representatives all the best on this effort, and I hope the President listens.
As I read that post, I thought of the information that Arianna Huffington raised in her post blasting Politifact, following her confrontation with Liz Cheney on "This Week." Just focus in on the money that everyone (except Liz Cheney) acknowledges was spent on the Halliburton subsidiary KBR. Figures like $121 million and $553 million reflect payments to KBR that should not have been given according to a federal audit of our contract with the company. Imagine what we could have done with that additional $674 million dollars going toward stimulating the economy, or extending unemployment benefits.
Add to all of this the recent admission by CIA Director Leon Panetta that we are currently fighting approximately 50 to 100 Al Qaeda members in Afghanistan. 50 to 100. How much money are we spending over there right now? Then it was noted that we could be looking at an overall total (now including Al Qaeda in Pakistan) possibly 300 to 400 people. I am neither a central Asian or economics expert, but I agree with folks like Fareed Zakaria that we have put way too much money into all of this with diminishing results.
We simply do not have the money to continue doing this. President Eisenhower warned us of the military-industrial complex decades ago, and what we have now is a that on steroids with no end in sight. Add to that an energy-industrial complex of sorts, and you end up with Enron and BP. Add also a Wall Street-industrial complex, and you have the United States at its most economically vulnerable since the Great Depression.
We need to have a very public, very thorough federal audit across the whole of the U.S. government. We need to call out and end the wasteful projects and government contracts that work against the bottom line of the government. But of course I know that nothing like this will happen, and that is our key problem.
Representatives Frank and Paul are trying to point us in the right direction. Who among their colleagues will pay attention?