Reason‘s Nick Gillespie weighed in on a government shutdown debate hosted at the New York Times called “What Federal Spending Are We Better Off Without?” Here’s an important passage:
The U.S. accounts for 40 percent of global expenditures on military might and, in real dollars, our defense spending rose nearly 80 percent between 2001 and 2012. As the shutdown entered its second week, The Dayton Daily News reported that the Pentagon is sending half a billion dollars’ worth of “nearly new” cargo planes to a storage facility in Arizona, where they will join $35 billion worth of other unnecessary aircraft and vehicles.
This is one of the most illustrative features of the general corruption in Washington and kudos to Gillespie for bringing it into the pages of the New York Times. Unsustainable entitlement programs are eating up a greater and greater piece of the budgetary pie, threatening the viability of overall fiscal viability into the future. And in this context, politicians continue to allocate billions of taxpayer dollars for Pentagon programs that, often times, even the top military brass say are superfluous.
This summer, the armed services committees in both the House and Senate rejected Defense Department requests to shutter military installations in the United States that the Pentagon says it doesn’t want or need. The infamous F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, to take another example, costs almost $400 billion and is the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program in history. Military officials have told Congress for years to scrap it, but it has all fallen on deaf ears.
In April, Gen. Raymond Odierno told The Associated Press that a $436 million program to build updated versions of 70-ton Abrams tanks is unnecessary. “If we had our choice, we would use that money in a different way,” he said.
“The Army,” Gen. William Phillips told a House subcommittee “is buying more [Abrams tanks] than it actually needs at this point.”
That’s when politicians from Ohio, where the Abrams tanks are built, went haywire. Rep. Jim Jordan insisted the tanks are necessary for the defense of the country, despite what Pentagon officials say.
“Look,” said Jordan, the plant that builds the tanks “is in the 4th Congressional District and my job is to represent the 4th Congressional District.” Um, by robbing taxpayers blind?
The government is spending into oblivion, saddling an entire generation with an enormous burden of unfunded liabilities, all so they can secure continued support from corporate welfarists like Lockheed Martin. What’s worse is that this kind of corruption and profiteering occurs in sectors well beyond the military industrial complex, as wealthy farm companies, Wall Street financiers, and corporate giants like General Electric know full well.
And yet, as Gillespie points out, we’re supposed to believe “there’s no more cuts to make.”