US Politics, Pork, and Profiteering Have Created a Second-rate Military

November 1st, 2017 - by admin

Paul Craig Roberts / Institute for Political Economy & The Fiscal Times & Citizens Against Government Waste – 2017-11-01 00:12:52

One Day Tomorrow Won’t Arrive

One Day Tomorrow Won’t Arrive
Paul Craig Roberts / Institute for Political Economy

(October 28, 2017) — Before the idiots in Washington get us blown off of the face of the Earth, the morons had better come to terms with the fact that the US military is now second class compared to the Russian military.

For example, the US Navy has been made obsolete by Russia’s hypersonic maneuvering Zircon missile.

For example, the speed and trajectory changes of the Russian Sarmat ICBM has nullified Washington’s ABM system. One Sarmet is sufficient to take out Great Britain, or France, or Germany, or Texas. It only takes a dozen to wipe out the United States.

Why don’t you know this?

For example, Washington’s enormously expensive F-35 jet fighter is no match whatsoever for Russian fighters.

For example, US tanks are no match for Russian tanks.

For example, Russian troops are superior in their combat readiness and training and are highly motivated and not worn out by 16 years of pointless and frustrating wars over no one knows what.

If the US ends up in a catastrophic war with a militarily superior power, it will be the fault of Hillary Clinton, the DNC, former CIA director John Brennan and the military/security complex, the presstitute media, and the American liberal/progressive/left, which, made completely stupid by Identity Politics, has allied with neoconservative warmongers against President Trump and prevented Trump from normalizing relations with Russia.

Without normal relations with Russia, nuclear Armageddon hangs over us like the sword of Damocles.

Do you not agree that it is outrageous, astounding, inexcusable, inexplicable, reckless and irresponsible that the Democratic Party, the print and TV media, the military/security complex that is supposed to protect us, and the liberal/progressive/left are working hand in glove to destroy the human race?

Why is there so much opposition to normalizing relations with a nuclear power? Why did even the Greens jump on the anti-Trump propaganda bandwagon. Don’t the Greens understand the consequences of nuclear war?

Why is there such a crazed, insane effort to eject a president who wants to normalize relations with Russia?

Why are these questions not part of the public discourse?

The failure of political leadership, of media, of the intellectual class in America is total.

The rest of the world must find some means of quarantining Washington before the evil destroys life on earth.

CAGW 2017 Congressional Pig Book Press Conference

The 10 Most Outrageous Pork Barrel Projects of 2016
Rob Garver / Forbes & The Fiscal Times

(April 14, 2016) — When Congress eliminated earmark spending a few years ago there was a legitimate question about whether the Congressional Pig Book — the much-anticipated annual report from Citizens Against Government Waste — would continue to serve much purpose. The review of special programs and projects inserted into federal appropriations bills took delight in spotting particularly egregious examples of pork barrel spending that the earmark ban was supposed to eliminate.

As it turns out, even in the absence of actual earmarks, members of Congress have still found ways to channel money to pet projects and services with narrow benefits, so the Pig Book continues to root them out. The most recent edition was published on Wednesday.

In fact, according to a statement released by CAGW president Tom Schatz, “The 2016 Pig Book shows that earmarks are making an unwelcome comeback in Washington.
Here are the 10 largest items identified in this year’s edition, all drawn from CAAGW’s database.

1. DDG-51 Arleigh-Burke Class Destroyer. At a cost of $1 billion for a single ship, the demand that the Pentagon acquire another destroyer — one not requested by Defense officials — stands as the single largest item on this year’s list.

2. Peer-Reviewed Defense Department Medical Research. A combination of congressionally-directed health research programs within the Department of Defense will cost the country $278.7 million this fiscal year.

3. F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Known for being vastly over budget even as it consistently underperforms, the F-35 has become a symbol of waste and inefficiency. Nonetheless, Congress mandated the spending of an additional $255 million on the program — enough to buy just two planes.

4. Army Corps of Engineers. Long a target of government watchdog groups, the Corps is often tasked by lawmakers with infrastructure projects that have suspiciously limited local benefit. This year, CAGW claims to have identified $211.2 million in wasteful spending.

5. Defense Health Program. Still more health research was directed by Congress to be conducted by the Department of Defense, with $207.5 million set aside for “core research funding.”

6. Fund for the Improvement of Education. Despite the lack of a request from the Obama administration to fund FIE, which distributes grants to state and local education programs, Congress directed $163.9 million to the program.

7. Bilateral Economic Assistance — Democracy Fund. Despite attempts by the Obama administration to do away with this State Department program, it has received a steadily increasing appropriation which this year reached $150.5 million.

8. Flood Control. This one is the Army Corps of Engineers again. The issue here isn’t that flood control is bad per se. It’s that of the $125 million Congress allocated to the program, much of it appears likely to go to projects more associated with lawmakers’ personal preferences than with hard science.

9. Traumatic Brain Injury and Psychological Health Research. There’s no real question about whether it makes sense to fund research into TBI, especially given the toll it took on US troops serving abroad over the past decade. The question is whether or not Congress should be directing that the research — and the $125 million Congress appropriated for it — belongs within the Pentagon, which is where the money is going.

10. Peer-Reviewed Breast Cancer Research. Again, nobody is claiming that breast cancer shouldn’t be researched. But is the Defense Department the best place to conduct it? Apparently Congress thinks so, because this year’s appropriation is for $120 million.

Defense Spending: The Pig Book for 2017
Citizens Against Government Waste

The Department of Defense (DOD) has received the most earmarks at the highest cost to taxpayers in each year since FY 1994, a trend that continued in FY 2017. The number of earmarks in the bill rose by 59.7 percent, from 67 in FY 2016 to 107 in FY 2017. The cost of these earmarks expanded correspondingly, increasing by 57.6 percent, from $3.3 billion in FY 2016 to $5.2 billion in FY 2017. This total constitutes 76.5 percent of the $6.8 billion in earmarks contained in the 12 appropriations bills for FY 2017.

$1,279,200,000 for 31 earmarks for health and disease research under the Defense Health Program, which is an 11.2 percent increase in cost over the 28 earmarks worth $1,150,800,000 in FY 2016.

Former Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-Okla.) November 2012 report, “The Department of Everything,” pointed out that the DOD disease earmarks added by Congress mean that “fewer resources are available for DOD to address those specific health challenges facing members of the armed forces for which no other agencies are focused.”

According to the report, in 2010 the Pentagon withheld more than $45 million for overhead related to earmarks, which means those funds were unavailable for national security needs or medical research specifically affecting those serving in the military.

A March 14, 2012, Washington Post article stated that DOD Comptroller Robert Hale proposed decreasing the Pentagon health budget in part by eliminating “one-time congressional adds,” which he said totaled $603.6 million in FY 2012 for the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program.

Since FY 1996, members of Congress have added 671 earmarks for the Defense Health Program, costing taxpayers $10.5 billion.

$1,020,800,000 for four earmarks funding two planes intended to be replaced by the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF): $979 million for 12 additional F/A-18 E/F Hornets for the Navy; $24.8 million for F-16 mission training center simulators; $12 million for a missile warning system for the F-16; and $5 million for anti-jamming GPS for the F-16.

The Air Force declared its variant of the JSF to be combat ready in August 2016, 15 years after Lockheed Martin won the contract. However, a report released in the same month by former DOD Operational Test and Evaluation Director Michael Gilmore found that, “achieving full combat capability with the Joint Strike Fighter is at substantial risk” of not occurring prior to the end of development. The report described the JSF as “. . . not on a path toward success but instead on a path toward failing to deliver.”

In the interim, those aircraft the JSF is meant to replace are aging rapidly, leaving a readiness gap. During a February 7, 2017 House Armed Services Committee hearing, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Admiral William Moran claimed that the number of grounded F/A-18s is “double where we should be.” As of February 2017, 62 percent of the planes were non-operational, and 53 percent of the Navy’s total air fleet is grounded.

Beyond the litany of cost overruns and delays, doubts exist as to whether the JSF will be an improvement. Many members of Congress, including Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), who served 26 years in the Air Force and retired as a colonel in 2010, have questioned whether the F-35 will exceed the performance of the (far cheaper) A-10 in close-air support of troops on the ground.

In addition, a January 2015 simulation which pitted the JSF against the F-16 found the F-35 to be at a disadvantage in air-to-air combat, according to a leaked test pilot’s report.

$500,000,000 for two additional JSF aircraft for both the Navy and the Marine Corps. The acquisition misadventures of the JSF program have been well-documented. In development for nearly 16 years and six years behind schedule, the program is approximately $170 billion over budget and has encountered an abundance of persistent issues.

An April 2015 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report noted that the lifetime operation and maintenance costs of the most expensive weapon system in history will total approximately $1 trillion.

Many of the problems with the F-35 program can be traced back to the decision to operate program development and procurement simultaneously. This meant that whenever problems were identified, contractors needed to go back and make changes to aircraft that were already in production.

Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum on July 24, 2015, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James stated, “The biggest lesson I have learned from the F-35 is never again should we be flying an aircraft while we’re building it.” And Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Frank Kendall referred to the purchase of the F-35 as “acquisition malpractice” in February 2014.

Remarkably, other DOD brass do not appear overly concerned. On December 19, 2016, Lieutenant General Christopher Bogdan, who heads the F-35 Program Office, claimed “This program is not out of control.” For this stark example of institutional bias, CAGW named Lt. Gen. Bogdan Porker of the Month for January 2017.

Rather than asking pressing questions as to whether the JSF remains worthy of further commitment, members of Congress provided an earmark for four additional aircraft. Since FY 2001, members of Congress have added 13 earmarks for the JSF program, costing $2.4 billion.

$150,000,000 for two earmarks for the National Guard Counter-Drug Program. Formerly earmarked to individual states and congressional districts, the program, which allows for the use of military personnel in domestic drug enforcement operations, is now funded in one bundle as a work-around to the earmark moratorium.

The Drug Enforcement Administration, with a budget of $2.1 billion, is already responsible for these activities. Since FY 2001, there have been 68 earmarks costing taxpayers $642.1 million for the National Guard Counter-Drug Program.

Members of Congress who have inserted earmarks for this program in the past include longtime pork advocates such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Appropriations Committee member Harold Rogers (R-Ky.), former Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and the late Sens. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) . . . .

Related: Has the Navy Wasted Billions on Its New Combat Ship?

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