Congress passed yet another continuing resolution to fund the government through March 23, making the recent government shutdown the shortest on record. They also approved lifting the debt ceiling and approving large increases in both military and domestic spending. As a result of the increased spending on both military and domestic priorities the deficit will be increased by another $1.5 trillion in the coming fiscal year. Conservative Republicans and some “blue-dog” Democrats are appalled at the sudden irresponsible spending. The military has suffered under sequester limits and the schizophrenic nature of continuing resolution budgets. The Pentagon has not always been responsible with the money they have received in the past. A 2011 bipartisan commission determined that the DoD wasted $60 billion in contractor fraud and waste in the Iraq/Afghanistan wars. The Defense Business Board estimates that the Pentagon could eliminate $125 billion in administrative waste over the next 5 years with changes to current practices. Military contracts are among the most lucrative since delays or cost overruns are usually absorbed as part of the norm. Some weapon systems never make it to final production and money spent prior to that is unrecoverable. This is very wasteful and costly for everyone. I remain a strong proponent of a powerful military with the most effective weapons and best trained personnel. However we should spend our money wisely and better oversight is called for. Government contracts, whether for military or domestic projects, should not be looked upon as a “golden calf” and an opportunity for irresponsible behavior.
President Trump wants a large military parade to display some of our “hardware” and honor our armed forces. I realize that the President has a deep respect and love for our military members but I feel a parade is not the most effective way to dignify our troops. The time and money spent preparing for and carrying out a massive parade could be better spent on training and preparedness. To quote some of our top military commanders, “Some countries march in parades, we train and fight.” The President could instead use his influence to negotiate more cost-effective weapons systems with our defense contractors. Huge federal deficits are as much a threat to our national security as a foreign nation’s army. Throwing money at problems has not worked in the past and will not work in the future. Everyone must be accountable for our tax dollars and a parade will not improve our military or fiscal competence.