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News Link • Congress

Congress’ Slush Fund For Defense Earmarks

• Linda S. Carbonell

Tea Party favorite, Rep. Allen West of Florida is bragging to constitutents about how he’s getting $8 million for a factory in his district that manufactures engines for drones. He claims the money was secured by cutting “wasteful DOD offsets.” Rep. Chris Gibson of New York is patting himself on the back for getting the money to open a nanotechnology lab at the Albany campus of the State University of New York, and an additional $7 million for more nanotech research. Rep. Martin Heinrich, Democrat of New Mexico and announced $3 million for a nonprofit called Technology Ventures Corp. to “help expand innovation in New Mexico’s emerging satellite industry.” Yeah, even the Dems are getting in on this. What all these district-specific funds have in common is the way they are being allocated. None of them are in the primary Pentagon budget. These earmarks, pork projects set aside for a particular Congressional district, are in a newly created special fund called the “Mission Force Enhancement Transfer Fund.” The fund has already hit $1 billion, and was created with the full co-operation of a House Armed Services committee chairman, Buck McKeon of California, who claims that “the broader Congress, and the nation, must make tough choices in order to provide for America’s common defense.”

President Bush funded the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq by keeping them out of the Defense Department budget and not including them in any budget figures presented to the public. Our actual deficits were hidden from us this way until it was too late to do anything about the way he had doubled our national debt. A defense “enhancement” fund that is outside the budget is just more of the same. It’s a way for the Republican budget hawks to boast that they have slashed spending, while surreptitiously including their favorite earmarks.

 

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