Republicans and Democrats may not agree on much these days. Still, after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy struck a deal with House Republicans that may force a vote on significant cuts in Pentagon spending, many members from both sides of the aisle rushed forward to decry even the prospect of prudent adjustments to defense budgets.
That’s not the kind of togetherness America needs.
Our organizations have different views on the size and scope of the federal government, but we agree on this: the Pentagon budget is far too big. It is replete with waste and fraud. It is full of bloated weapons programs that Congress continues to fund against all reason. It is also vastly larger than needed to defend the nation and actually imperils our national security by rewarding failure and its lack of focus on the most important threats facing America.
Instead of trying to score political points or jump to defend outdated programs, Congress should use this moment to take a hard look at Pentagon spending — and then enact some meaningful fiscal restraint on an area of the federal government that is out of control.
This year, the military budget climbed to $858 billion and is on pace to hit $1 trillion in just a few short years. It is substantially higher than it was at the peaks of the Korean or Vietnam wars or the height of the Cold War in real, inflation-adjusted terms. Even after the withdrawal of the U.S. military from its longest-running overseas conflict in Afghanistan, the military budget has continued to skyrocket. The United States spends more on its military than the next nine countries combined.
The $80 billion increase in the U.S. military budget just from fiscal years 2022 to 2023 is bigger than every other military budget except for China. And the United States still spends two and a half times as much as China does on its military.
Yes, the world is changing, and the costs of coping with it are rising. But the Pentagon’s budget is failing to change, too; it continues to spend more instead of spending smarter. In fact, there is a long list of programs that could be cut without compromising security:
—The infamous F-35 is the most expensive weapons program in U.S. military history. It is replete with design flaws that generate frequent headlines about its nearly comedic misfires. Simply refusing to buy additional F-35s could save more than $1 billion annually.
—The Department of Defense relies heavily on service contracting for its day-to-day operations, a practice that can often cost much more than directly hiring federal employees to complete the same tasks. Reducing service contracting by a mere 15 percent could save us about $28 billion annually.
—The Ford-class aircraft carrier, in addition to being plagued by delays and cost overruns, has been incredibly expensive for taxpayers. We could save $18 billion by canceling new carriers under the program. The Navy has tried to retire some of the Littoral Combat Ships — another unworkable legacy weapon system that is expensive to maintain — and has been repeatedly rebuffed by Congress. Granting the Navy’s request to decommission ships it knows aren’t worth the money could save us $3.6 billion.
This is not a comprehensive inventory of items that could be cut in the bloated Pentagon budget. Billions more could be saved by reducing nuclear warheads and all the military hardware that carries them, to say nothing of addressing the military’s global sprawl.
And then there is this: the Pentagon itself identified but tried to bury evidence of more than $100 billion in bureaucratic waste. $100 billion! Why has Congress failed to demand the Pentagon eliminate the waste? The Pentagon understood that should be the logical response; that’s why top leaders maneuvered to suppress the study identifying all this waste.
The great problem with excessive Pentagon funding is that it is practically self-generating. The more money the Department of Defense receives, the more ingrained wasteful, duplicative or failing programs and weapons systems become. It’s only occasionally that a political moment arrives that offers the possibility of interrupting this vicious cycle. Now is such a time.
1 thought on “Opinion: Left and Right Agree — Pentagon Has Billions in Waste, Fraud and Abuse Worth Cutting – Inside Sources”
Since WWII no “war” was declared by congress. The pentagon houses at least 50% more Admirals and Generals than necessary; few with any real command experience.
Funding of pentagon programs has a close tie to campaign funding from the military industrial complexes. Check campaign spending on congress.
For a number of years there has been unsuccessful audits of the pentagon bringing up a total “tight” review of all programs not forgetting the removal of 50% of the stars and bars including their staffs. And drop Ukraine funding now.
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