Why Are We Forcing The Army To Build Tanks It Doesn’t Want?

Written by Annie-Rose Strasser

Congress is forcing the Army to spend nearly half a billion dollars building tanks that Army officials insist they don’t want, with money they say could be better spent elsewhere, according to a new report from the AP.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) are the two members of congress at the helm of the effort to spend $436 million on upgrading the Abrams tank, “a weapon the experts explicitly say is not needed.” The reason? Both represent Ohio, home to the nation’s only tank manufacturing plant, which would profit from the money.

The move is contradictory for the two politicians; both are also vocal advocates for fiscal austerity, and have made careers insisting that the government cut what they see as wasteful spending. It would seem that pushing for tank production against the will of the Army — as Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno put it, “If we had our choice, we would use that money in a different way” — is in direct contradiction to that aim.

Still, Rep. Jordan defended his request for the funding, saying, “The one area where we are supposed to spend taxpayer money is in defense of the country.” This is a common line among Republicans. The House GOP’s proposed budget also seeks to restore funding the military says it doesn’t need.

Indeed, Republicans have tried to maintain defense spending while pushing for cuts to mental health programs, cancer treatment, food safety inspectors, and preschool programs. They have repeatedly ignored or dismissed the assertion from military generals that President Obama’s budget, which would have made targeted cuts to military programs, was an acceptable path to spending reduction.

A cut to one specific program would by no means be a drastic setback for the military; between 2001 and 2011, military spending nearly doubled. American voters, much like the military’s generals, also support scaling back the military’s spending.

This post was originally published by ThinkProgress.


Photo: myglesias/flickr

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Kay Martin
Kay M.2 years ago

Thank you Annie, for your good article and I enjoyed reading all of over 230 comments. from the care 2 members. Why doesn't the main news stations carry this to show how terrible the republican congress is ? Why can't we Take that 1/2 billion dollars and use it to feed the hungry children, to get them early education.? This is so bad, no one around the world are going to believe we treat our own citizens that bad. NBC....CBS.....MSNBC.....and CNN start doing nightly coverage of all this trash, and what it is doing to America....period.

Robert Tedders
Robert Tedders2 years ago

Fools. If you want to run an army properly, the commanders tell you what they need. You don't tell them!! I commend the generals in Q. for taking such a direct stand which potentially endangers their standing within their profession.

I agree that civilian oversight is appropriate, but this is going too far - the commanders themselves are asking for this money not to be spent, even if they would like to use it for something else.....

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill2 years ago

All levels of government do this. I worked at a local office supply store some years ago. Every year, people would come in from the local state funded college and say "I have money left from my budget, what can I spend it on?" If they don't spend it this year, they loose that much next.

A terrible waste of money! Most of this stuff was never used.

Joseph Belisle
Joseph Belisle2 years ago

And they keep spreading the lie that social safety programs are wasting tax dollars. When in fact these programs not only contribute to the economy but also save us all money over the long run. People with no money do not spend money and people who are starving cost our society a hundred times more that any social safety net program.

emiko y.
emiko yamaguchi2 years ago

American government and UK government are doing similar waste of our tax moneies to spend on weapons such as UK's Trident the nuclear weapons will cost us £100 billion instead of housing, jobs, benefits, health care, fire fighters etc etc, being all cut. We don't want weapons and even American army don't want tanks. I am glad to know that American generals don't want new tanks and recommended to spend on for ordinary people. Voice of good. I'm sorry American air force aided Fukushima nuclear disaster rescue work on 11 March 2011 is now I'll with radiation and suing Tepco

Aletta Kraan
Aletta Kraan2 years ago

Ridiculous , just read about the homeless people and people who have to rely on food banks
spend some money on them.

Charlene Rush
Charlene Rush2 years ago

I think we all know the answer to this question ~ SPECIAL INTERESTS!

Bob Abell
Dr. Bob Abell2 years ago

This is the usual Republican B.S. Scream murder when money is spent to actually improve peoples lives, and then lobby to waste money on stuff the Military says it doesn't need. The Republicans' paymasters call the shots. This is the 2012 addition of the Republicans' idea of democracy. Lincoln must have just done another flop in his grave.

Michael S. S.
Michael S. S.2 years ago

Terri have you forgot Dec 7, 1941!

Michael S. S.
Michael S. S.2 years ago

Speniding on the military should only account for 10% of the total federal spending except in time of war but spending individualy for Education, Health care social programs for the poor Environment and Veterans should never go lower than 5% each