Military Pork: Wasteful or Helpful?
Our Readers Who Comment are mostly angry about R. Jeffrey Smith's report that the House could approve $6.9 billion for military equipment Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates says we don't need. More than a third of that total comes from earmarks.
A reality of politics is that defense contracts bring jobs to a congressional district and campaign contributions from the military industrial complex. Some readers defend this process, but they are in a distinct minority. Gates has long been making the argument that we are buying equipment that has little relevance to challenging today's threats. But if you represent a community that builds parts for C-17 transport planes, you're expected to protect that contract.
President Obama railed against earmarks in his campaign. He has a veto. Many readers are urging him to use it if the House passes the legislation as it stands. Some suggest the money could go to health care. Several urged the Post to provide a full list of the earmarks in the proposed legislation.
We'll start with EddietheInfidel, who wrote, "The face of warfare has changed for America... Fighter planes that elude radar aren't much use against an enemy who's total assets consist of a few AK's, RPGs and a dozen goats. Although this decision might cost yet more jobs in an already faultering economy, it doesn't make sense to me right now to spend money on weapons systems that have questionable utility."
c-love suggested, "Take this money and spend it on needed and wanted health care"
But shadocat noted that "This is a tough one to call. On the one hand, Gates knows his job and should be listened to. On the other hand, we are in a recession with high unemployment, and we are buying JOBS for citizens in addition to military hardware. I'll pass on condemning the Dems this time, but I also won't support them unless they get their ethical and human rights acts together."
chambers14 was the first of several to ask for "Name names, please."
And Michael_A1 added, "Yes, WaPost - NAME NAMES so we can call and harass them personally!!!!"
barto1 wrote, "Gates and the Pentagon would prefer taking the money and spending it on future projects that DoD chooses. A lot of emergency/urgent care advances have come from the military and DARPA grants have resulted in a lot of advances in science and engineering, so it's not always guns and bombs the DoD wants to develop."
SwellLevel5 said, "I am having a ton of trouble with Obama (kind of a major disappointment to me), but he gets flaming "Straight-A's" for going after obscenely bloated defense budgets. Face it, $7 billion of a $1+ trillion budget deficit is comical, but there is no better place to start than John Murtha's buddies."
ripvanwinkleincollege asked, "Can we keep Gates for a while longer? This guy has been the best Secretary of Defense since DoD was created in the late 1940s. I don't agree with him on the C-17 transport plane but everything else he has been doing is "spot on", as our friends across the pond might say."
bcha1 wrote, "Eisenhower was so accurate when he said to 'Beware the military-industrial complex.' Whether it is fear, lobbiests, or simply payoffs in the form of trips, the House of Representatives has been 'bought off.'..."
Obama_TRAITOR_in_Chief wrote, "Gates is turning out to be the little socialist sympathizer himself...."
To which douglaslbarber replied, "I take it this post means that you favor funding defense contracts whether or not the soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen at whom they are directed feel a need for the products the congressmen are selling. Disgusting."
Obama_TRAITOR_in_Chief then said, "NO... This means Gates has turned into a roll-over lap dog for any disagreement between career Military Generals and the Obama White House... Obama sees the Military as his opportunity to suck money from defense and pummel it into Obama vote getting entitlement programs..."
wswail wrote, "The Administration needs to take on the Defense Community, made up mostly of vendors in the field. The Defense budget soared 70 percent during the Bush Administration, not counting Iraq and Afghanistan. We need to trim the collective Defense ears way, way back. We can do National and "Homeland" Security just fine with the 2000 Budget figures. We are largely in deficit because of Cheney's spending on Defense."
hadelaide said, "All we hear about is "bring the deficit down". How the hell this will happen with all these types of shenanigans going on? They want to make more weapons and engage in wars. Yet, they cannot find the funds to close Gitmo and right the injustices that exist there..."
Chagasman wrote, "Congress is out of control. Corruption is rife... Until we ban all campaign contributions from corporations, private business, unions, organizations of all kinds, and only permit $20 per candidate per election contributions from citizens, or fund campaigns entirely from public funds, this corruption will continue..."
But sonny_sky said, "More liberal CHANGE. I think even the idiots that voted for Obama are starting to figure out that Democrats are not really acting in their best interests or the best interests of the country. Time for some real change, Adios, Dems.."
mellwood1 wrote, "I am just so happy to see that a Democrat-dominated Congress is just as capable as a Republican-led Congress is wasting billions of "defense" pork..."
mickle1 asked, "So where are the Blue Dog Dems and the fiscal conservative Repugnicans?"
To which Matthew_DC replied, "Figuring out what other hardware we need which can be manufactured in their respective states. A "fiscal conservative" never met a military project he couldn't wholeheartedly support. But increased pay for the troops, that's another matter."
We'll close with Justlistening, who wrote, "For the President, this is the moment when campaign issues become a reality - a bill that is full of earmarks... he specifically campaigned against them. Now is the time for the political courage to come to the forefront-otherwise the Presidency is compromised and we enjoy full business as usual. Even as a retired vet, the bill goes in the trash and we see who is in charge."
All comments on this article are here.
July 30, 2009; 6:26 AM ET
Categories: Congress , Military | Tags: Budget, Earmarks, Gates, Military
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