Some lawmakers claim that we cannot afford to cut a dime of Pentagon spending. That is simply untrue. Like every federal government department, the Department of Defense is susceptible to wasteful spending and pet projects. Perhaps more so because many lawmakers do not seriously scrutinize the Pentagon budget for fear of being perceived as “weak on defense.”
But the reality is that a large chunk of the DOD budget has nothing to do with defending this country. Since the number one national security threat is our $16 trillion national debt, we must be willing to cut spending in all areas of government. We all want a safe and stable country which means that we cannot afford to spend taxpayer money on unnecessary projects that have nothing to do with protecting our national security. There are tons of duplicative programs, unnecessary weapons that Pentagon officials do not even want, funding for bizarre studies, and more ridiculous spending in the Pentagon budget.
Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma has created a booklet called the “Department of Everything” to highlight wasteful spending in the Pentagon budget. Here are some examples of ludicrous spending from his report that should outrage every taxpayer.
How Does This Fall Within the Mission of the Department of Defense?
- The Pentagon runs its own microbreweries and U.S. based liquor stores.
- The Pentagon gave $1.2 billion to grocery stores in 2012.
- The DOD will spend at least $580 million this year on programs to promote global health.
- The DOD has committed $180 million to widen parts of U.S. highways.
- The DOD has 127 separate programs for elementary and high school students to encourage the study of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
- The Pentagon is involved in space weather monitoring, research, and forecasts.
- The Pentagon funds breast cancer and prostate cancer research.
- The Pentagon runs U.S. schools when public schools are less than a mile away--the Pentagon run elementary and junior high school at Dahlgren only has five students in the fifth grade, three students in the seventh grade!
- The Pentagon recently partnered with the Department of Agricultural to produce a reality cooking show called Grill it Safe.
Many of these programs are overlapping. (i.e. at least six different federal departments fund breast cancer research.)
Ridiculous Studies Funded by Our Taxpayer Dollars
- The Navy funded research on what the behavior of fish can teach us about democracy.
- The Navy and Air Force funded a study that compared the jargon that New Yorkers vs. Californians use on Twitter.
- The Air Force Office of Scientific Research funded a study that examined how to make it easier to produce silk from wild cocoons in Africa and South America.
- The Navy funded research on developing an iPhone app to alert users when it is the best time to take a coffee break.
- The Pentagon funded a conference that included a session titled "Did Jesus Die for Klingons too?"
- The Pentagon has spent more than $1.5 million to develop its own beef jerky roll ups treats.
- The Air Force funded a study on if men holding guns appear taller, stronger, and more masculine than those not holding guns.
- The Office of Naval Research funded research on the social interactions between robots and babies.
- The Air Force funded a study on the feather colors of the first birds on Earth. They concluded that their feathers were most likely black.
- The Pentagon has spent about $6 million studying the science of storytelling.
Green Energy Scams in the Pentagon Budget
- The DOD launched more than 100 wasteful renewable energy initiatives in 2010. That number is higher than the Department of Energy.
- The Pentagon is purchasing Chevy Volts as part of their green initiative program. These cars cost around $40,000 to buy but cost as much as $89,000 to produce.
- The Air Force is spending $14 million on converting three Alaskan radar stations from diesel to wind turbine energy.
Please check out Senator Coburn's full report for more details.
There is clearly a lot of wasteful and unnecessary spending in the Pentagon budget. Yet, too few lawmakers are willing to cut a dime out of the DOD budget. Many are even unwilling to reduce the percent by which future Pentagon spending increases--this is what the sequester would do.
Contrary to rhetoric by some lawmakers, sensible Pentagon cuts will not destroy our military. It is time to get serious about the national debt and cut wasteful spending across the board.