Sunday, July 14, 2013
As Congress winces and whines about cutting the federal budget (as do special-interest groups across the political spectrum) in the effort to reduce deficit spending, it’s difficult to understand why the government can’t cut $1 trillion in federal spending over the next 10 years — $500 billion of it from defense.
As a percentage of spending, that’s not much. The government spends more than $6 trillion yearly.
And not every dollar of that is spent wisely. Much of the waste is a result of bad decisions and mismanagement.
But some of the waste is so outrageous it goes beyond mere mistakes.
Take, for example, some of the U.S. spending taking place in Afghanistan for projects American military leaders don’t need or want.
The Washington Post reported this week the U.S. has erected a 64,000-square-foot military headquarters building in southwestern Afghanistan that comes with all the bells and whistles needed for modern warfare. It has a vast operations center with tiered seating, a briefing theater, spacious offices, fancy chairs and excellent air conditioning, The Post reported.
But this $34 million state-of-the-art structure is empty — and it is likely to remain that way until it is torn down.
Military leaders are certain it will never be used. Commanders in the area, who insisted three years ago that they did not need the building, now are in the process of withdrawing forces and see no reason to move into the new facility, according to The Post.
What’s most disturbing about this and other waste is that Congress and the Pentagon didn’t listen to what military leaders in Afghanistan were telling them. They questioned the need and the opulence.
A Marine general told The Post it is “better appointed than any Marine headquarters anywhere in the world.”
An Army general observed: “There was never any justification to build something this fancy.”
The military has launched an investigation into the decisions that led to the contract and construction of this shrine to waste. Let’s hope it results in answers that will curb further abuses.
It is exactly these types of boondoggles in the military and elsewhere that must end. Wasteful project after wasteful project — $34 million here and $60 million there — adds up to real money and a federal budget built on deficit spending.