Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Representatives Frank and Paul Tell the Truth About Spending, Yet Will Their Colleagues Listen?

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?


Micheal Sisco said...

The problem is, as I see it, that war is no longer the province of the military ... it's the province of Haliburton and all the other vulturesque contractors that pledge -- and fail -- to do work the military has done pretty well throughout history. I guarantee that if we gave the Navy CeeBees (Construction Battalion) $600 mil or so, we would have had a brand spankin' new Iraq and a good start on Afghanistan ... just saying ...

hscfree said...

Dude, I agree with you. I remember that the military post in my hometown used to have the soldiers doing most of the post maintenance, and the post was pretty friggin immaculate, and the costs were not outrageous. Now all of that work is done by contractors, and the post is not up to the level that i remember.

Anonymous said...

WOW! Michael Sisco nailed it!

Profit is not maximized by resolution, but ongoing conflict which fluctuates, but actually trends toward escalation over a period of years.

Watch Afghanistan become the next annuity to corporate defense contractors. Another annuity we'll be paying for over the next 15 years.

I'm just sayin'...