Yesterday, President Obama declared that in addition to solving all of the country’s other ills that he was going to eliminate government waste. His target—defense spending. “I want to focus on one particular example, and that is the situation in defense contracting.”
This was a speech I long expected. Our government should, of course, take every responsible measure to ensure it is a good steward of our tax dollars and provide the best support for our men and women in uniform. But, I suspect that is not what is going on here. And here is why. Government already has lots of tools available to fight fraud, waste, and abuse. They just have to use them. Doing the kinds of reform the president’s suggest will actually add more bureaucracy to the process—making the ways government buys things less not more efficient. So why is the president making these promises—I suspect it is cover to just cut defense spending—and then claim those cuts are really savings.
There are real ways to make the way the Pentagon buys things more efficient. We outlined them in a Heritage paper (Defense Spending Fraud, Waste, and Abuse: Hype, Reality, and Real Solutions) months ago because we suspected the new administration would try a tactic just like this.
The bottom line is any money we save through reform should be plowed back into the military budget to buy the stuff our troops need—not to cut the Pentagon budget.
Ironically, if the president did really want to focus on combating fraud, waste, and abuse, he has a real legitimate target—his 700 billion dollars plus stimulus package that plans push way more money than the Pentagon spends in year out the door in no time or less.