February 1, 2017
By Molly Rush
“The Pentagon buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in military waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the funding as an excuse to slash the defense budget.” – Washington Post 12-5-2016
President Trump has said he would save for a $500 billion increase in military spending with a “full audit” of the Pentagon budget, and by cutting the bureaucracy and unwanted programs. All good ideas. But try that with Congressional support for these programs that bring jobs into their states.
In June the Inspector General found that the Army made $2.8 billion in wrongful adjustments to accounting errors in one quarter in 2015. With no invoices or receipts, they just made up the figures. The Post’s report indicated that reining in huge contracts with Lockheed Martin, United Technologies, Boeing, Northrup Grumman and General Dynamics, would total $64.1 billion in savings.
The 2016 fiscal year military budget was $573 billion. The 2017 U.S. military budget is $728 billion, 14 times the Russian budget of $53.02 billion and four times China’s $190 billion.
But there’s more, much more.
Trillions not accounted for by the Pentagon
A Reuters investigation in November 2013 found that since 1996, the Pentagon used fake “plugs,” a budget gimmick of entering false or completely made up figures to hide missing or lost data to the tune of $8 TRILLION.
On September 10, 2001, a day before 9/11, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld admitted that “According to some estimates, we cannot track 2.3 trillion dollars in transactions.” That horrifying statement was lost in the horror of the tragic attacks of the following day.
Today Presidential appointees for Treasury and the military budget are not likely to end the practices that transfer funds from taxpayers to the shareholders of weapons contractors.
So what can we taxpayers do to stop the Congress from stealing funds from urgently needed programs that benefit the people instead of pouring hundreds of billions into the wasteland of phony Pentagon budgets?
Get informed. Check out the following sources:
- NATIONAL PRIORITIES PROJECT www.nationalpriorities.org. a national non-profit, non-partisan research organization provides transparent and accessible information, so people can prioritize and influence how their tax dollars are spent.
- CENTER ON BUDGET AND POLICIES PRIORITIES www.cbpp.org, non-partisan, “pursues federal and state policies designed both to reduce poverty and inequality and to restore fiscal responsibility in equitable and effective ways.”
Share that information with peace, economic justice and faith groups. Help write and circulate fliers. Write letters to the editor and use social media to get out the word.
Meet with members of Congress and local and state officials who deal with the fallout of cuts to needed programs. Support public forums and speaker series. Join and support a group such as the Merton Center and Womens International League for Peace and Freedom. Join or start a committee. March or protest. You’ll come up with more ideas as you become more engaged. And you’ll meet interesting people who share your concerns.
People power is the strength that will create real change. Don’t forget we’re not in the minority on most of these issues. The powers that be don‘t want you to realize that. Determined and consistent work is what it takes to make a difference.
Molly Rush is a co-founder of the Thomas Merton Center.