The Pentagon has been called the ‘black hole’ of federal spending for a long time.
It was called this this year. It was called a ‘black hole’ in 2020. Pentagon coffers were called this over a decade ago. And before that. Needless to say this was a danger President Dwight Eisenhower warned Americans about over a half century ago.
Why? Because there is not a lot of transparency when it comes to defense spending.
Now Senators Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders, along with Chuck Grassley, are trying to do something about it.
Their bill would examine defense spending-particularly very recent, massive new spending the Pentagon didn’t even request.
Seriously. Billions of taxpayer dollars are being shoveled to the Pentagon that weren’t actual requests from the agency. Roll Call reported last month, “Congress directed the Pentagon to spend $12.2 billion in the current fiscal year on nearly 1,000 different ‘program increases’ in the Defense spending bill’s research account alone, projects pushed by lawmakers that the Defense Department did not publicly request, according to a previously unpublicized database.”
The report continued, “As spending on the overall defense budget grew in the last several years, the number of these lawmaker-inserted projects has ballooned from 600 in fiscal 2021 to 996 today, a 66 percent hike, according to the database compiled by Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan group that monitors government spending. “
“The initiatives, which average $12 million apiece, are each tiny when considered separately, at least in the massive Pentagon budget, which is more than $800 billion,” Roll Call added. “For that reason, the individual projects, like the larger phenomenon of surging congressional additions to the defense research budget, have received virtually no attention in the press.”
Yeah about that…I’ve joined a bipartisan group of senators for a clean audit of the pentagon. https://t.co/fPMfJI4lfs
— Rand Paul (@RandPaul) June 22, 2023
Paul, Sanders and Grassley’s ‘Audit the Pentagon Act of 2023’ would demand an independent audit in fiscal year 2024, and failure to do so would force the Pentagon to give back one percent of its budget to go toward reducing the deficit. This penalty would apply to any part of the Department of Defense that failed to comply.
A press release from Paul’s office reported that “Last year, the DOD failed its fifth audit and was unable to account for over half of its assets, which are in excess of $3.1 trillion, or roughly 78 percent of the entire federal government. More recently, reports disclosed the Department of Defense miscalculated more than $6 billion in aid to Ukraine.”
Paul said, “Accountability and transparency are the bedrock of responsible democracy. No institution is above scrutiny, especially the Department of Defense which has the largest budget of any federal agency and is charged with carrying out the greatest constitutional responsibility.”
Sanders added, “The Pentagon and the military industrial complex have been plagued by a massive amount of waste, fraud, and financial mismanagement for decades. That is absolutely unacceptable.”
“If we are serious about spending taxpayer dollars wisely and effectively, we have got to end the absurdity of the Pentagon being the only agency in the federal government that has never passed an independent audit,” Sanders added.
Rand Paul’s father, former Congressman Ron Paul, had long called for Pentagon audits, writing in 2018, “If you subsidize something you get much more of it, and in this case we are subsidizing Pentagon incompetence. Expect much more of it.”