Republicans trying to find solid ground for opposition to the Democrats in Congress are criticizing what they call wasteful spending. When they actually do find wasteful spending, that criticism is justified. Often, though, they’re criticizing reasonable spending that benefits a lot of people.
What these Republicans almost never criticize is military waste. Yet, military waste far exceeds wasteful spending in domestic programs.
Republican Senator Tom Coburn, for example, complains about 1.7 million dollars in spending to contain agricultural pollution in Iowa, suggesting that Iowans just ought to get used to the pollution. In Iraq, however, billions upon billions of dollars have literally been lost by the military – they can’t tell anyone where these billions of dollars have gone. It’s like the difference between losing a penny and burning a ten dollar bill.
Even when the military does know where its money has gone, it’s often gone into absurdly wasteful projects. Yesterday, Congressman Jim McDermott told the story of one such incident of military waste in Iraq:
” We are talking about leaving Iraq. But one of the soldiers said to me, if we are getting ready to leave Iraq, why are we still building buildings like that one over there, what are we building for?
It is a really good question. I mean, if you listen to the soldiers, they can see that lots of money is being spent wastefully. There is a tower, a control tower for an airport in Iraq. We spent $14 billion building a control tower for a field where there are two helicopters, two helicopters.
Now, you ask yourself, what was that tower built for and why was it built there? And these kinds of questions aren’t being asked, and I think that’s why it’s important that the budget that the Progressive Caucus is putting out is really raising a whole series of issues, and I think that the members of the caucus, of the larger Democratic Caucus, should think long and hard about how much money is put into the military budget.”
Fourteen billion dollars for a control tower on an airfield where nothing flies other than two helicopters? I can’t find independent confirmation of this report. However, if it is true, it’s just one more of a long line of anecdotes of obscene waste of money by the American military.
Certainly, the report needs to be investigated. If the Republicans in Congress won’t push for investigations of this sort of misuse of American taxpayers’ money, they’ve got no right to whine about million-dollar anti-pollution programs.