Campaign pressures Presidential candidates to reduce wasteful Pentagon spending
CONCORD, NH - Yesterday's report that the Pentagon spent nearly $1 million to ship two 19-cent washers illustrates why Presidential candidates need to get serious about protecting American taxpayers from ongoing Defense waste.
The latest example of wasteful Pentagon spending became public yesterday, when a South Carolina defense contractor pled guilty to wire fraud and money laundering. The company was paid $20.5 million for bogus shipping costs over a six-year period.
"This 20 million dollars is the tip of the iceberg," said Steve Varnum, PrioritiesNH director. "Despite absorbing half of our nation's discretionary budget, the Pentagon cannot even pass a simple standard audit. Wasteful Defense spending is rampant and robs money that could be used to improve America's education, health care and job training and energy independence."
A 2006 report published by Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities, titled "Financial Mismanagement in the Department of Defense: No One Is Accountable," (available online at http://www.sensiblepriorities.org/pdf/chan_r2.pdf), found that the Defense Department has not complied with accounting standards put in place 17 years ago. The result is that Defense officials don't know what the department owns, where its inventory is located, or how its budget is spent.According to an account on Bloomberg.com (full story: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=a_pIZ20xQxeU), aside from the million dollars for shipping two washers to an Army base in Texas, Pentagon records show that the S.C. contractor also was paid $455,009 to ship three $1.31 machine screws costing to Marines in Habbaniyah, Iraq, and $293,451 to ship an 89-cent split washer to Patrick Air Force Base in Cape Canaveral, Florida.Ben Cohen, president of the Priorities Campaign and co-founder of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, said, "The Priorities campaign is working to get Presidential candidates to finally realize that reducing Pentagon waste is not being 'weak on defense' but 'strong on common sense'."
Varnum said the Presidential candidates who vote on the Defense budget in Congress each year share responsibility for the Pentagon's wasteful ways, as does New Hampshire's Congressional delegation. NH Reps. Paul Hodes and Carol Shea-Porter recently voted to pass next year's Defense budget request.
"We're hoping reporters and voters will ask the Presidential candidates who are in Congress - as well as Reps. Hodes and Shea-Porter - how closely they examined the Pentagon's request before rubber-stamping it," Varnum said. "Did they try to eliminate any of the $60 billion that military experts say is wasted annually in the Pentagon budget?"
PrioritiesNH is conducting an aggressive "bird-dog" campaign in the NH Primary, organizing volunteers to ask the candidates about Pentagon waste and what their budget priorities would be.
PrioritiesNH is a nonpartisan campaign to align America's budget priorities to reflect a national commitment to education, healthcare, energy independence, job training and deficit reduction -- at no additional taxpayer expense -- by shifting funding from obsolete Cold War and nuclear weapons.
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