A job for a mad dog

Trump has a unique op­por­tu­nity to go after waste at the Pen­tagon

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Like nearly all gov­ern­ment agen­cies, the De­fense Depart­ment wastes money faster than the tax­pay­ers can earn it, and a study by the Pen­tagon proves it. The study re­veals that nearly one in every four dol­lars the Pen­tagon gets is wasted while gen­er­als, ad­mi­rals and their friends in Congress cry for more, lest the na­tion be left de­fense­less in a hos­tile world.

The Pen­tagon or­dered the study in 2015 when the ac­coun­tants dis­cov­ered to their dis­may that they were wast­ing more money than thought pos­si­ble. The de­fense chiefs wor­ried that mak­ing it all pub­lic might pre­vent an es­cape from the se­quester which they said was ham­string­ing their mis­sion to de­fend America.

What they have done, in­ad­ver­tently, is pro­vide a way for the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to ac­com­plish some­thing no one would have be­lieved pos­si­ble. The mil­i­tary and its good friends in Congress have de­manded that any deal should pro­vide re­lief from the se­ques­tra­tion re­quire­ments, which re­quired the Pen­tagon take a $113 bil­lion hit over the next four years. The Pen­tagon’s own study demon­strates that the re­duc­tions could be achieved with no neg­a­tive im­pact on de­fense if the De­fense Depart­ment would sim­ply stop wast­ing money, more money than it de­votes to ac­tual war fight­ing.

The United States spends more on de­fense than Rus­sia, China or other ad­ver­saries do, and yet the de­fense es­tab­lish­ment in­sists the na­tion is con­stantly fall­ing be­hind. Now there’s ev­i­dence of why. The de­fense chiefs might as well take a quar­ter of the bil­lions the tax­pay­ers al­lots them to the Pen­tagon park­ing lot and make a bon­fire of it.

Fed­eral spend­ing is out of con­trol be­cause Democrats and Repub­li­cans, lib­er­als and conservatives, tend to rate each other’s sup­port of gov­ern­ment on how much they are will­ing to spend rather than mak­ing what they spend ac­tu­ally work. Lib­er­als re­gard conservatives who want to cut ed­u­ca­tion and wel­fare pro­grams as skin­flints; lib­er­als skep­ti­cal of mil­i­tary spend­ing are de­nounced by conservatives as weak on de­fense. Lib­er­als rarely ques­tion do­mes­tic spend­ing and conservatives are loathe to find fault with de­fense spend­ing. That must change.

Pres­i­dent-elect Trump says he wants to end waste and abuse ev­ery­where, and he should give nei­ther de­fense nor do­mes­tic spend­ing a pass. Only this week he urged the wan­ing Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion to can­cel a deal with Boe­ing for the de­vel­op­ment of two new Boe­ing 747s as the pres­i­dent’s planes. (Ei­ther of them would be­come Air Force One when the pres­i­dent is aboard.) The Gov­ern­ment Ac­count­ing Of­fice es­ti­mates these planes, to­gether with their so­phis­ti­cated oneof-a-kind elec­tron­ics, would cost $3.2 bil­lion. Of that, $2 bil­lion will be spent on re­search and de­vel­op­ment, which would be avail­able to Boe­ing, after all, for other ap­pli­ca­tions.

Pres­i­dents be­fore him promised to cut “waste and abuse,” and the prom­ises were rarely re­deemed. Be­cause, un­like Barack Obama, for ex­am­ple, he is not hos­tile to the mil­i­tary, he might be the pres­i­dent who ac­tu­ally does some­thing about the mak­ings of that bon­fire on the park­ing lot.

Mr. Trump’s crit­ics say he has too many mil­i­tary types on his team, but if he un­leashes Gen. James N. “Mad Dog” Mat­tis to make the mil­i­tary quit wast­ing money, he will earn the thanks of ev­ery­one, per­haps in­clud­ing some of the crit­ics now hav­ing a good wal­low in the first stage of grief.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.