Monday, February 13

Doggone US inability to cut spending

Reading these figures from an NYT analysis of the QDR on Tom's website makes me want to puke:

It's amazing how Donald Rumsfeld's Defense Department can produce a $439 billion spending plan and still skimp on the one thing the American military desperately needs: expanded ground forces so the weakened and cannibalized Army can meet the requirements of Iraq without hurting its ability to respond to other threats.

While the Pentagon intends to increase pay and recruitment bonuses, no part of its nearly 7 percent budget increase is aimed at raising overall troop strength. Instead, a large chunk of this nearly $30 billion bonanza goes to buying more new weapons and postponing overdue cuts in wasteful Air Force and Navy projects unrelated to fighting terrorism…  

Instead of reallocating resources toward the real threats America faces, the military services continue to pour their money into fighting fictive suerpowers in the wild blue yonder and on and below the seven seas. Pentagon budgeters showed themselves so pathetically unable to restrain spending on expensive ships and planes that they actually cut back, rather than increased, the overall size of the Army over the next few years to pay for it.  

It would cost about $4 billion to $5 billion a year to give the Army 30,000 more troops, the minimum it needs to check its alarming slide. Instead the Pentagon chose to begin the construction of two unneeded new stealth destroyers, which will end up costing $2 billion to $3 billion each.  It also decided to splurge on a new nuclear attack submarine for $2.6 billion and to shell out $5.5 billion for separate Navy and Air Force versions of new stealth fighter jets, plus another $5.5 billion for yet a third version that either can use…

Can't really blame 'the Pentagon' as a whole, because I know (again Tom's work) that there are lots of good folks working in there. I can blame Rumsfeld and the Joint Chiefs because they're the ones the buck stops with over there. On the other hand, they're fighting a couple of wars and have their hands pretty full.

I can blame President Bush and say that this is just one more item in his long history of overspending. 'Cut taxes and spend', to adapt his father's criticism of the Democrats. But his political situation right now also makes it hard for him to stand up and say 'No, you're not getting 5 new platforms when our current platforms are without peer,' not least of all to the Congress-people in whose districts and states these things are made. Ultimately, I guess I'll have to blame the Pentagon, the President, and the Congress... oh yeah, and the American people who pay the bills and vote these jokers into office, of whom the whole circus is certainly a reflection.

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