Government Spending

Porkbusters of the World, Unite!

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Remember that whole War on Earmarks thing from last year? Well, so much for that.

Lawmakers had promised to cut back on earmarks and mandated better disclosure of them after steady criticism that they were funding programs with little debate or oversight. The promises led to an initial decline in earmarks last year that was trumpeted on Capitol Hill. But the new data show that they are surging again, at least in the proposed Pentagon authorization budget, which sets out priorities to be funded in a later appropriations bill. […]

Requests include $204,000 for an infantry platoon battle course from Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, both Arkansas Democrats; $2.2 million for nanofluids for advanced military mobility from Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Ky); $98 million for a Northrop Grumman project to develop an aircraft sensor suite, from Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Mel Martinez (R-Fla.).

Chambliss was a part of another bipartisan group of lawmakers who also requested allocating $497 million to United Technologies, Lockheed Martin and Pratt; Whitney for "advanced procurement or line close down costs," the watchdog group's data show.

Funding for an indoor small-arms range in Connecticut? It's in there too, at $11 million, care of Sens. Lieberman and Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.).

All of which illustrates that you can scream about busting pork until you're blue in the face, but as long as we're spending trillions on defense with unprecedentedly lax oversight, every new defense authorization and "emergency supplemental" will be a grotesque festival of government waste.

NEXT: Friday Funnies

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  1. Funding for an indoor small-arms range in Connecticut? It’s in there too, at $11 million, care of Sens. Lieberman and Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.).

    Would this be open to the public at least? Maybe they could put it in the old Colt building in Hartford.

  2. But we gotta have the best stuff for the soldiers so’s we can fight the Global War against them pesky Islams!

    not to mention the preservation of alien technologies from the 1947 Roswell incident. A lot of that technology has been built into modern warfighting apparatus.

  3. I hear that MS13 is promising to not kill as many people this year.

  4. The new Democratic majority will rid us of the pesky earmarks through ethics reform!

    Lol!

  5. I honestly do not understand why people refer to Iraq as a war. It is not now nor was it ever a war, it was an INVASION based on lies and half truths by a war monger president bent on World Domination.

    Johnny b
    http://www.FireMe.to/udi

  6. The new Democratic majority will rid us of the pesky earmarks through ethics reform!

    Within 100 days, don’t forget!

  7. Within 100 days, don’t forget!

    It’s been more than 100 days? 😉

  8. a war monger president

    Shouldn’t you, by your own definition of the Iraq “conflict,” be referring to Bush as an INVASION mongering president?

    At least make your spittle-flecked posts internally consistent.

  9. The linked article about spending is pretty good, but can’t resist a little dishonest slight of hand. The article includes a dramatic chart showing the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and saying that “the Global War on Terror is now the second priciest conflict in U.S. history in inflation-adjusted terms (see Table 1).” It goes on to correctly note that “that’s only for the direct cost of the war,” ignoring, importantly, the number of dead.

    But this contradicts the point previously made. Any count that includes costs for the dead and the economic loss from the draft would push the GWoT quite a bit down the list of expensive wars. The number of casualties in Vietnam and Korea were far greater, and any “savings” from using a draft instead of a volunteer military are purely illusory to the country as a whole. It’s dishonest of a libertarian magazine to publish figures that are objectively pro-military draft by hiding its cost. The Civil War provides another thorny issue of cost, in addition to its massive casualties, by being fought on American soil and damaging the American economy in ways other than war expenditures. (There’s also the separate question of how to compare costs for wars fought by a much smaller population, or whether to ignore that.)

    Strangely, the article fails to complete the syllogism, however.

    I agree that we should count the true cost of the war, and that includes the dead. But you can’t do that and simultaneously claim that this is the second most expensive war; it’s not, by true cost.

  10. Would this be open to the public at least?

    Don’t make me laugh. I’m sure it will be LEO-only.

  11. Huh? No mention of this last paragraph from Reason? Oh, right, because the E-i-C fosters an irrational hatred for McCain and won’t let the facts get in the way of that hatred….

    “Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill), the presumptive Democratic nominee for the White House, disclosed in March that he had sought $740 million in earmarks over the past three years, about a third of which received funding. He has also proposed legislation requiring better disclosure of earmarks before they are approved. GOP rival Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), one of the sharpest earmark critics in Congress, has made it a point to buck the trend and avoid asking for earmarks.”

  12. the Global War on Terror is now the second priciest conflict in U.S. history

    Trying to fight a clean war is also much more expensive. Guided bombs v. dumb bombs are just the most obvious example. We could, also, have just levelled Fallujah the first time around, and probably saved ourselves quite a bit of expense since then. We could also have just installed some bloody-handed nutbar with a mandate solely for stability and gone home.

    In wars, cheap does not necessarily equal good.

  13. Don’t make me laugh. I’m sure it will be LEO-only.

    I belonged to an indoor range in Orange County, NY. For three weeks a year the range was off-limits to members (you know, people who pay to belong) during the day so that the local cops could practice in it. This was a deal worked out with the town to prevent attempts to get the range shut down.

    In big fucking letters inside, it said “NO JACKETED BULLETS”. What did the cops use? Jacketed bullets. It also said “DO NOT STAND CLOSER THAN 15 FEET TO THE BACKSTOP”. So what did the cops do? They did unbelievably stupid “dive, roll, shoot” TV-style antics from…8 feet away.

    The jacket bullets dented the backstop. One cop, while pulling this dive bullshit, got hit by fragments coming back at her (of course). What did she do?

    She sued the range.

    I fucking hate cops.

  14. She sued the range.

    And I’m sure she had no shortage of blue-jacketed buddies willing to swear under oath that she was more than 15 feet from the backstop and firing unjacketed bullets.

    I hope the range cancelled this cop-fest.

  15. Huh? No mention of this last paragraph from Reason? Oh, right, because the E-i-C fosters an irrational hatred for McCain and won’t let the facts get in the way of that hatred….

    You’re right; I would never say something like “his threat yesterday to veto every earmark-laden bill was not idle, and hinted at what I think would be the best thing about a McCain White House.” Either that or maybe I didn’t want to make yet another non-election story be all about the election.

  16. I hope the range cancelled (sic) this cop-fest.

    Nope. I have no idea how the suit resolved; I got out of NY soon after.

  17. This is a Pentagon budget. LEOs may not even be welcome, except on Free Equipment Day.

  18. Remember that whole War on Earmarks thing from last year? Well, so much for that.

    What? You actually believed them?

  19. Elsewhere in Reason: We interviewed Kozinski back in 2006. The topic of tranny quizes did not come up.

    When I was stationed in Groton for a school, we had to canx our 9mm quals due to weather, and weren’t abale to resched prior to departure.

    And every navy base has been tight range availablity since the Cole & 9/11.

    Usual disclaimers, wish it was funded through normal mechanisms,etc.

  20. Funding for an indoor small-arms range in Connecticut? It’s in there too, at $11 million, care of Sens. Lieberman and Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.).

    Whoops this was what I was going to quote.

    Don’t know how that other one got there, I clipped that for a different thread was was beat to the ‘shoddy journalism’ quip by two other people

  21. WTF are “nanofluids?”

  22. WTF are “nanofluids?”

    Well, I don’t know much about nanotechnology, but hopefully you can inject nanofluids in your body and get superpowers.

  23. Liquid Metal. You know, the stuff the T-1000 is made of in Terminator 2. They say it’s going to be really important in the upcoming Global War on Robots.

  24. But…

    Would the spending have been any lower without these earmarks?

    ie, to what extent is this inflating the spending, as opposed to simply uh, earmarking portions of it to make sure it gets allocated to the desired projects so that someone else doesn’t take it?

    ie, if that $98 million was not earmarked for a Northrup Grumman sensor suite, would the total fall by $98 million, or would there be $98 million available for the first admiral who can pull enough strings to get his local Navy base’s golf course luxuriously refurbished?

    If we take it as a given that the sensor suite is needed and the expense is justifiable, what would be the preferrable method of appropriating that money and dedicating it to the desired purpose?

  25. Isn’t Lieberman an “I” and not a “D” from Conn.?

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