it is time to end excessive waste and spending at the Pentagon
and use the funds to invest in the working class of this country
End Pentagon Waste and Fraud: Invest in the Working Class
Hon. Bernie Sanders / US Senate
(May 14, 2021) — It is no secret that as a nation we face enormous needs. Over 90 million Americans are uninsured or under-insured, close to 600,000 are homeless, our childcare system is dysfunctional and enormously expensive, we have one of the highest rates of childhood poverty of any major nation, our roads and bridges are crumbling, and we face the existential threat to our country and planet of climate change.
In other words, there is an enormous amount of work that has to be done and much of that work will be very expensive.
For that reason, we have the responsibility to do everything that we can to make sure that our taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and cost effectively. That is true whether the issue is health care or education or anything else.
It is certainly true when it comes to the Department of Defense, an agency with a budget of $740 billion, which is by far the largest spending category in our discretionary budget, consuming more than half of all discretionary spending.
Earlier this week, as Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, I held a hearing to address the enormous amount of waste, cost overruns, fraud, and financial mismanagement that has plagued the Department of Defense and the military industrial complex for decades.
Let’s be clear: about half of the Pentagon’s budget goes directly into the hands of private defense contractors, not our troops. Those same contractors have paid billions in fines and settlements for misconduct, all while making huge profits off of their government contracts.
Furthermore, Congress has appropriated so much money for the Department of Defense that the Pentagon literally does not know what to do with it. According to the Government Accountability Office, between 2013 and 2018 the Pentagon returned more than $80 billion of its funds back to the Treasury.
The truth is that the defense budget is rampant with cost overruns, fraud, and all kinds of unnecessary spending. And at a time when we have so many unmet needs in America, we must ask ourselves, why is it that the United States is spending more on the military than the next 12 countries combined?
Why is it that the United States of America is now spending more on the military, in real inflation-adjusted dollars, than we did during the height of the Cold War or during the wars in Vietnam and Korea?
Why is it that the Pentagon remains the only agency in the federal government that cannot pass an independent audit — 30 years after Congress required it to do so?
We cannot keep providing excessive funds to the Pentagon when millions of children in this country are going hungry and tens of millions of Americans struggle to pay for the basic necessities of life. Now is the time for us to truly focus on what we value as a society and to fundamentally transform our national priorities.
Not Even Fox News Can Swallow the Pentagon’s Spending Habits
A great nation is judged not by how many millionaires and billionaires it has, or by the size of its military budget. It is not judged by the greed of its largest corporations. It is judged by how well it treats its weakest and most vulnerable citizens. A truly great nation is one that is filled with compassion and solidarity.
We have adopted a warped sense of priorities that says America can always find enough money for war, but that there is never enough for infrastructure or education or nutrition programs. That has got to change.
I find it interesting that despite the fact that the lion’s share of revenue for some of the defense contractors comes from the taxpayers of the United States, these same companies provide their CEOs and executives extremely large compensation packages.
Last year, Lockheed Martin paid its CEO, James Taiclet, $23.3 million while 95 percent of its revenue came from defense contracts. Raytheon paid its CEO, Gregory Hayes, $19.4 million while 94 percent of its revenue came from defense contracts. And Boeing paid its CEO, David Calhoun, $21.1 million in compensation while 45 percent of its revenue came from defense contracts.
In other words, these companies, for all intents and purposes, could almost be looked at as governmental agencies — yet their CEOs make over a hundred times more than the Secretary of Defense. It’s not too surprising, therefore, that we have a revolving door where many of our top military officials end up on the boards of directors of these major defense companies.
I sent a letter to all three of those CEOs to come testify at this week’s Budget Committee hearing. All of them declined.
Furthermore, there are massive cost overruns in the Defense Department’s acquisition budget that we have got to address. According to the Government Accountability Office, the Pentagon’s $1.8 trillion acquisition portfolio currently suffers from more than $628 billion in cost overruns with much of the cost growth taking place after production.
And let’s be clear: a major reason why there is so much waste, fraud and abuse at the Pentagon is the fact that the Defense Department remains the only federal agency in America that hasn’t been able to pass an independent audit 30 years after Congress first required it to do so.
In 2011, the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan concluded that $31-$60 billion spent in Iraq and Afghanistan had been lost to fraud and waste.
Separately, in 2015, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction reported that the Pentagon could not account for $45 billion in funding for reconstruction projects.
And more recently, an audit conducted by Ernst & Young for the Defense Logistics Agency found that it could not properly account for some $800 million in construction projects.
Enough is enough.
In my view, it is time to hold the Defense Department to the same level of accountability as the rest of the government. We cannot continue to accept a defense budget that is bloated, that is wasteful, and that has in it many areas of fraud.
Thank you for adding your name today to send a clear message to my colleagues that our movement stands together on this issue.
In solidarity, Bernie Sanders
POP the Ballooning Pentagon Budget
The Pentagon Can’t Even Protect Oil Pipelines Inside the US!
Erica Fein / Win Without War
(May 15, 2021) — Last week’s cyber attack on the Colonial Gas Pipeline sent shockwaves around the country — spiking anxiety about outages and price hikes for families across the country, especially in the Southeast.
Did you know while the federal government continues to allocate three-quarters of a TRILLION dollars to the Pentagon every year, just 2.5% of that goes to the main cybersecurity agency? In fact, until very recently there were only 6 full-time employees on the key pipeline security team. Meanwhile, our taxpayer dollars fund32,500people to work on building a fighter jet that still can’t fly in combat.
That’s because the ENORMOUS Pentagon budget doesn’t reflect the security needs of the country — it reflects the wants of gigantic arms corporation CEOs and lawmakers who collectively receive $25 million per election in defense donations. So here’s where we come in.
More and more politicians are turning down defense contractor dollars they rightly see as toxic to their electoral success, and our team is working with a growing behind-the-scenes coalition in Congress to end the corrupt, blank check defense contractor handouts and the ballooning Pentagon budget. It doesn’t make us popular and it won’t win headlines, but it’s the only way we’ll win and get our priorities back in order.
The biggest of the weapons corporations receive more of our federal tax dollars than the State Department, Department of Justice, or Department of Energy. Why? It’s not just campaign contributions.
These weapons dealers know lawmakers are loath to oppose projects that create jobs in their district, so they intentionally spread production into as many corners of the country as possible. The classic example of this phenomenon: the F-35 program, which Lockheed Martin claims is spread over 46 states, even though there’s just a handful of jobs in many.
This outrageous pork-barreling doesn’t just make us less safe by denying funds to crucial projects that do, but it also provokes and accelerates dangerous arms races which, in the case of nuclear weapons, could result in the destruction of the entire planet.
It’s time that we stop spending where arms lobbyists want, and start spending where we can improve peoples’ lives and tackle the true threats to human security: poverty, climate change, healthcare, and more.
Here’s the reality: this cycle of greed and waste won’t stop unless we organize a massive effort to fight back against the failed status quo thinking that prioritizes war over true safety.
Take a moment to pause and imagine what the world would look like if our spending priorities weren’t on weapons and war — those are the dreams that can become a reality if we work together now.
Thank you for working for peace — Erica, Amy, Shayna, and the Win Without War team