Gates on the Defense Department

UPDATE 5/11/10

ABILENE, Kan. — Warring against waste, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Saturday he is ordering a top-to-bottom paring of the military bureaucracy in search of at least $10 billion in annual savings needed to prevent an erosion of U.S. combat power.

He took aim at what he called a bloated bureaucracy, wasteful business practices and too many generals and admirals, and outlined an ambitious plan for reform that’s almost certain to stir opposition in the corridors of Congress and Pentagon.

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Apparently  the Defense Department is a scared cow to Congress. It amazes me that Americans cannot see that the DoD is an open sewer for their tax dollars. Billions and billions of tax dollars are thrown at the DoD each year like candy to children.  There is so much money there that the Pentagon has to invent new ‘toys’ to spend it all. It brings to mind a teenager with daddy’s credit card.

Dare we also raise the question: why does the budget of the  Defense Department of the United States have to be larger than the next 9 nations combined? The US share on the global scale is 41.5%.  Incredible. That’s $663.8 billion.

$663.8 billion on defense.  How does that compare with other government spending?

$695 billion on Social Security– but that amount is not all tax dollars, but rather receipts from employees and employers over the years.

$743 billion on Medicare and Medicaid benefits, but yet again, these are not raw tax dollars.

Therefore, roughly 1/3 of our spending goes to ‘defense.’  What was that history lesson about the Roman Empire and its demise?

Yet, the dumbed-down citizens, clueless about this gross waste of their raw tax dollars, will rail against Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits but give a green light to those nearly equal amounts spent by the Pentagon.  As will the members of Congress.

“The damned government spending!”

Bamboozlement at its zenith.

UPDATE

The local right-wing GOP representative in my neighboring House district wrote an Op Ed in the Toledo Blade this morning crowing about the deficit [and other right-wingnut talking points].  His district, other than Bowling Green State University, is quite conservative and he hopes to make hay this fall by denouncing the ‘flawed health-care “reform” package’ to his dumbed-down rural constituents.

Congressman Latta shouts the usual Sky is Falling babble about the outrageous costs of health care ‘imposed’ by this plan, but you can bet your life that any and all military budget appropriations will receive his solid support- without thinking.

And, isn’t that the point?  Without thinking! As if the Pentagon is entitled to get whatever funds they deem necessary?

He also hopes that his constituents aren’t THINKING, either.  He hopes that no one questions the following data: Latta says of the recently passed Health Care Reform Act, “America faces $76 trillion in unfunded liabilities by some estimates…”

Where did this $76 trillion come from? And, what does this have to do with the revenue-neutral Health Care Reform Act? Those ‘unfunded liabilities’ are not part of this act, but a little bamboozlement here and there make for a great re-election campaign speech.

I wonder if any of Mr. Latta’s constituents will ask him how much of the $663 billion Defense Department budget needs to be trimmed?

Probably not.

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8 thoughts on “Gates on the Defense Department

  1. “I wonder if any of Mr. Latta’s constituents will ask him how much of the $663 billion Defense Department budget needs to be trimmed?”

    Or how much their own farm subsudies need to be trimmed? Probably not!

  2. I read about Mr. 9/11 Guiliani’s rant about border security yesterday. He said in a nutshell…Just leave it to him, he’s got a cunning plan that will solve the immigration problem… then he began to construct a idiots nightmare of a legion of border security guards stationed every few miles along the 2000 mile border armed with the latest imaging and scanning technology. He stated it as if this was just a simple thing that the Obama administration could do and solve all of the problems. To your average brain dead viewer he made it sound quite logical. But he never explained the logistics and the cost, which would be impossible and astronomical. Never mind that the Bush Administration spent billions on a virtual wall that doesn’t work.

    These guys don’t have to make sense. They are obstructionists and as long as they are talking about paranoia and defense to criticise…they get a free ride.

    This is why we have given billions to the Raytheon Corporation to build missle defense systems that exist only as a sci fi fantasy on paper and have never even come close to working in the field. Too many cushy jobs depend on defense spending fat!

    This is like the news about the Afghan anti corruption force. They brag that it has grown 100% this year. More personell to collect more bribes…Hoorah!

  3. It seems to me this is just more talk from the military industrial congressional complex, as President Eisenhower properly labeled it.
    We have been here many times before with the promise to trim expenses, end waste and corruption. That will not do the trick!

    The only way to end the out of sync Defense budget is to bring the troops home. Rep. Paul is right on. He said the other day if he was President tomorrow, Afghanistan and Iraq wars would be over and every soldier back in the United States. The same would be for Korea. He would close all overseas military and naval bases.
    This is the only way to cut the military budget. The interviewer then asked how many votes could he get in the House, and he said maybe the amount of fingers you have on one hand, lol…..
    Anything less is a joke.

  4. As I alluded to above, the problem is most representatives and senators are in it for themselves, that is, power, position and future high income as an adviser or lobbyist. That and the fear that if they supported some one like Paul, they would lose huge campaign contributions and thereby lose their job. As I have said many times, there is only one way to change the system, change the people or change the people. If we can’t bring ourselves to retire people like Marcy Kaptur, then we need to support a passive way of doing it, like term limits.

    Maybe it’s time others take a lesson from what the Utah Republicans accomplished last weekend. In Party caucus they removed the sitting Senator Bennett for not voting to cut spending programs. He had supported tarp and the stimulus programs.. Sure the Senate is losing a more moderate voice to a reactionary voice. However, in the long run it doesn’t impact the breakdown of the Senate as Bennett is a Republican and so will be his successor. There is no chance for a Democrat in Mormon Utah. My point is that no matter how powerful a person becomes, they can be taken down. But only if people step up and do it. Reminds me of that old song from the ’50s which went something like “that silly old ram, butting that dam, oops there goes another million watt dam”…….LOL

  5. To Microdot:

    It doesn’t take a billion dollar fence or border guards every mile to stop the flow of illegal immigrants. All that it takes is to arrest the following man and throw him in jail for about 10 years and fine him and his corporation 100,000 dollars per illegal migrant hiring violation and then threaten every other company and CEO likewise.

    And think of the boost to the economy now that labor intensive businesses must hire citizens! Now college students would have jobs they could do instead of taking out a mortgage on their future with student loans. The unemployment rate would dwindle, more tax revenue on legitimate taxable employees. What’s not to like about my plan? Oh… Corporations that have massive armies of manual labor would have to pay minimum wage and give benefits to attract workers. Ah boy, that’s a tuffy..

  6. Isn’t it all so clear, gentlemen, that all of this ‘stuff’ that we discussed in this thread is far, far from what our Founding Fathers imagined for this country when the began forming it.

    It has morphed into a nearly unrecognizable beast with odd appendages and a monstrous appetite for money.

    Perhaps it’s finally time to put the beast to rest and start all over again.

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