No one should be surprised that the newly seated Republican-led Congress will go after frivolous government programs. With $847 billion in defense appropriations packed into the $1.7 trillion FY2023 Omnibus Appropriations Bill passed at the end of December, there is wasteful military spending in the Pentagon budget that can and needs to be addressed. But some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who support a strong US defense consider warfighting budgets sacrosanct and countenance no efforts to review or cut where appropriate. The problem is the Joe Biden administration is spending huge amounts on woke agendas that do not advance improvement in military capabilities.
“We got a $32 trillion debt. Everything has to be on the table. [The US is] on pace to spend $500 billion or $600 billion just to pay interest on the debt,” Rep. Jim Jordan [R-OH] told Fox News’s Shannon Bream on Fox News Sunday. Jordan is not exaggerating. Servicing the interest on the national debt will be 74% of the FY2023 defense appropriation. According to budget summaries and data in the current White House Historical Tables for 2023, approximately $178.3 billion has been added to the national debt during Biden’s term, topping out at $32.6 trillion. These historically high numbers contradict the president’s claim that his administration has lowered the federal deficit.
Federal Debt Will Drive Military Spending to Support the Warfighter
With Pentagon funding representing 44% of the total government discretionary spending of $1.7 trillion in FY2023, defense expenditure is a juicy target for reduction. Cost-cutters can scrutinize any program not contributing to “beans and bullets” for warfighting capability. In next year’s FY2024 Pentagon budget, Congress expects the authorizing committees and the House and Senate armed services committees to do the country a service by requiring the secretary of defense to certify any funding request with a description of how it enhances or supports the US military departments’ warfighting and readiness capability.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion programs should be considered fair game for cost-cutting. These initiatives have virtually no data to support that they enhance the ability of soldiers, airmen, sailors, Marines, or Guardians to engage and defeat an enemy more efficiently or effectively. Will weapon systems be acquired and fielded more quickly with a greater positive impact on the battlefield if more service members attend critical race theory training? Probably not. Additionally, the FY2023 President’s Budget Request for Defense had line items for more than $3 billion for combating climate change. Taking a hard look at this investment to determine what is upgrading buildings and other facilities to withstand bad weather and eliminating everything else, like investing in more expensive alternative fuels, would identify non-value-added military programs.
Wasteful Military Spending
In his annual Festivus report, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) identified several inappropriate Defense Department expenditures. For example: “A Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction report revealed that the Department of Defense (DOD) spent roughly $28 million on forest-patterned, ‘camouflage’ uniforms to use in the deserts of Afghanistan.” Furthermore, the uniforms were purchased and fielded with no evaluation of the appropriateness of the design. Though this seems like chicken feed compared to large, multi-billion-dollar weapon systems acquisition programs, the questionable thinking behind the camouflage example is widespread and problematic.
The recent FY2023 National Defense Authorization Act was on to something with authorizing language that required the secretary of defense to explain why replacing 170,000 non-tactical military vehicles was a better idea than maintaining fossil fuel-powered vehicles. Liberty Nation reported on the US Senate initiative to ensure the Biden administration didn’t go off the rails chasing electric-vehicle alternatives costing more and delivering less.
Military spending has been on an upward trajectory for several years, and rightly so after the full-throttle funding limitations of the years under President Barack Obama. And real threats to America continue to require the DOD’s full attention. But spending tax dollars with little or no return in warfighting capability cannot continue.
The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.
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