Defense spending has become a sacred cow in the national budget that no one wants to touch. But what good is defense spending if the troops that it is supposed to be spent on aren’t actually receiving their equipment?
Via Dana Milbank:
According to the annual Gallup poll of confidence in American institutions, the military ranks first, earning high marks from 76 percent of Americans, and Congress ranks dead last, at 11 percent.
To understand that 7 to 1 disparity, look no further than Wednesday’s hearing of the House defense appropriations subcommittee. Defense Secretary Bob Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen proved themselves again to be serious men, speaking frankly about the crises we face. The lawmakers did not.
According to Milbank, while Gates was requesting money to buy equipment for the troops, money that has been put on hold for a month now, the lawmakers were busy fighting over who the shifting of funds would be likely to hurt — meaning which Congressman was likely to lose support from a major financial donor.
Yet Gates couldn’t get the lawmakers to agree to his urgent – and modest – request to shift $1.2 billion in Pentagon funds to protect soldiers’ lives in Afghanistan. He asked for the money a month ago, but Young’s committee hadn’t acted.
Why? Because Young objects to the money being taken away from the Army’s Humvee program. Never mind that the Army has more Humvees than it wants. They are manufactured by AM General – which happens to be Young’s third-largest campaign contributor. Its executives have funneled him more than $80,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Gates told Young in blunt terms that his delay was putting lives at risk, but the gentleman from AM General was unmoved. “We would like to analyze with you in some detail another source of that funding,” he replied, suggesting they talk more about a “helpful way to approach this.”
Helpful to whom, Mr. Chairman? Your country, or your contributors?
D.C. politicians are refusing to consider proposals to reduce troops in our active wars, and refusing to equip those soldiers who are going into battle. They are once more putting the needs and desires of their donors and the well-being of the financial coffers of their re-election campaigns over real world lives.
That low approval of Congress in comparison to the troops makes a lot of sense in that respect. Perhaps we can get them to run the country and have the Representatives enter active duty for a bit in their place.