Yesterday, the Senate passed the military appropriations bill, H.R. 3326. It’s a bill packed with waste, from 2.5 billion dollars for a bunch of C-17 cargo planes the Pentagon says it doesn’t want to 1.7 billion dollars for DDG-51 warship, designed to counter the Soviet Union’s particular military strategy.
To top it off, the legislation contains 2.7 billion dollars in earkmarks, spending that the military never requested. These earmarks are used to funnel federal money back to corporations and other organizations in senators’ home states, which usually have been bundling campaign donations to the senators, as a form of what might be charitably described as business development.
Only 7 senators stepped away from the gravy train and voted against the legislation – and only one of those senators, Russ Feingold from Wisconsin, was a Democrat. Feingold explained, “Congress should not be wasting taxpayer dollars on lawmakers’ pet projects, especially in the face of record deficits. We need to get our defense spending priorities right so we can adequately address the real world threats we face today, and not waste taxpayer dollars on unnecessary projects.”
For years, progressives have been hoping that, if they could just get a Democratic President and a Democratic majority in Congress, the Bush Era’s outrageous expansion in military spending could be reversed, and the savings could be applied to domestic needs instead. That’s not how it’s turned out. President Obama started the process out with a military budget that was larger than anything George W. Bush had ever crafted, and the Democratic majority in Congress joined the Republicans, rolling around in a corrupt pile of money from military contractors like pigs in the mud.
The Republicans are clearly not a party of fiscal restraint in military spending, but neither are the Democrats. Those Americans who want to see an end to rampant military waste will have to look elsewhere.