Former defense industry lobbyist Mark Esper, in his current capacity as Secretary of Defense, diverted a billion dollars intended for medical supplies to procurement of body armor, dress uniforms, jet engine parts, and other goodies to keep his fellow contractors in business.
Among the awards: $183 million to firms including Rolls-Royce and ArcelorMittal to maintain the shipbuilding industry; tens of millions of dollars for satellite, drone and space surveillance technology; $80 million to a Kansas aircraft parts business suffering from the Boeing 737 Max grounding and the global slowdown in air travel; and $2 million for a domestic manufacturer of Army dress uniform fabric.
The Department of Defense has long been coddled relative to accountability. Its audits are billions of dollars off. It’s a symptom of our willingness to turn to military force before considering other options when we disagree with other countries. It predates the Trumpies. And now Donald Trump’s arms control envoy is advocating an arms race to “spend Russia into the ground.”
I like to think that the pandemic will make us rethink a great many things, and this penchant for violent action and shoveling money into the Pentagon is one of them.
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I’d like to think that too but then I read things like this, Minnesota COVID testers ‘confronted by a group of armed citizens’ and all I can think is, WASF.
Enhanced Voting Techniques
At the very lest deciding on having the kind of military we are willing to pay for.
TS (the original)
For the parade through Washington DC to match those presided over by Putin & Kim Jong Un.
Agreed. I also want to dissolve Homeland Security. I think they’re out of control on both spending and the “mission”, whatever the mission was.
We need the money to rebuild the country and improve the day to day quality of life for people. It’s declining and it doesn’t have to. These are budgeting choices. Make different ones.
@TS (the original):
We’ve successfully avoided the Trump military parade, and if we can win in November, we can shut the door on that idea for good.
A little more from the IC:
@Kay: I would like to see that too, but I think major changes to budgeting priorities will require long-term Democratic majorities. I don’t think it’s something that can happen in one two-year congressional term.
Enhanced Voting Techniques
Damn, this makes my brain hurt. I thought one of the Trump’s assertions was Russia was need to contain China… or is that so last month with Trump?
Good Morning, Everyone ? ??
When I moved to a new assignment and claimed $1100 in expenses, the DoD finance analyst asked me “Aren’t you going to claim any more?” When I went to work for DOI, I lost money making the move.
Dorothy A. Winsor
Repeated for the morning people: I blogged about how our distorted ideas what makes a “strong” man shape our ideas of a “strong” female character. Strong women don’t have to be manly men. Strong MEN don’t have to be manly men.
TS (the original)
@Baud: Shame about those dress uniforms.
You’re going to see a TON of missing covid money. The Trump Administration are incompetent and there won’t be any exception regarding oversight of the billions of dollars they pumped in.
It would have been really difficult for relatively competent people to track and monitor all the billions in bail outs and subsidies and this was run by Jared. There will be covid bailout millionaires.
@prostratedragon: I always like having confirmation from the IC, and this is pretty firm confirmation, but we pretty much knew this already.
The thing is that Putin has his fingers in anything the Russian government or its lackeys do.
But it is nice to be able to say more specifically that Ron Johnson is carrying the Kremlin’s water.
We need to reexamine a lot of laws and departments that were created in the W. Bush administration, post 9-11.
@Dorothy A. Winsor: YESSS!!
@rikyrah: Good morning.
Dorothy A. Winsor
@Kay: While we’re at it, can we stop saying calling the country the Homeland? It’s creepy.
Agreed. I’d like to start the discussion though. I think the reallocation argument is persuasive. People know quality of life is declining, that things don’t work and are falling apart. It’s pretty simple- we need the money for other things. Move some around.
Homeland Security I think is a little more pressing because they have (sadly and stupidly, in my view) positioned themselves as the opponents of half the people who are paying them. I don’t think the military has done that. They wisely decided not to join Donald Trump’s personal police force. Decisions have consequences. Generally a better idea to stick with the people who actually pay you rather than the Trump Family.
@germy: Putin is looking for someone to lead Belarus.
I hope “Defund the Military” doesn’t become our slogan.
Agree about DHS. Especially the law enforcement components of DHS.
@Dorothy A. Winsor:
It was always creepy. We’re permitted to admit mistakes and fix them. Homeland Security was a mistake. One of the many, many bad things that came out of 9/11 – we’re not required to keep funding mistakes.
@Cheryl Rofer: Yeah, I think the confirmation is the reason the WP has made it a headline, because it’s certainly consistent with what we thought, and even many things we knew, like about the story laundering and Giuliani’s pal. I think the Putin part is new to the public.
Regarding the new “policy” to outspend Russia and China on defense, I wonder whether Putin agrees that the U.S. baited the Soviet Union into an arms race that was economically ruinous to them?
@germy: I wonder why Biden is doing so well with seniors.
Just delicious. He’s failing so he’s throwing them under the bus. It’s smart too! I don’t think it will work but he knows he has to blame someone and he’s decided to blame Republicans, to try to run as an outsider again.
They have to stick with him too, because half their base are Trump cultists and the other half are Q people.
Classic tail-wagging-the-dog. Until a way is found to get defense industry lobbying money out of the political system, this will not end. We have the government and budgets that billionaires and influential industries will let us have, not the one the country wants or needs.
TS (the original)
Does the GAO have any power. I just noted this from Sep 21. which has no mention of Covid-19 money going to defense spending
This report updates our oversight of federal actions to support public health, individuals, and the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings include:
There have been shortages of personal protective equipment and testing supplies because very few of them are made in the U.S. and global demand for them is high
HHS may be able to collect more complete data on COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths among racial and ethnic minority groups
The Department of the Treasury and the IRS don’t know how many eligible people have yet to receive an economic impact payment
I’m okay with cutting Homeland Security and DOD (or at least, no new increases, which would effectively be a cut)
But we’re going to need a LOT more money than whatever crumbs we manage to find on their tables.
First order of business on January 20th: restore. highly. progressive. tax rates., President Biden!
(One advantage of having a NFLTG President with his head and heart in the right place: he can get behind large tax increases on the wealthy and take all the heat for it. Heck, if we get the country back in shape, President Harris can dial the increases back ever-so-slightly and run as a tax-cutter in 2024 or 2028 ;)
GOP heads would be splodin’ everywhere =)
Dorothy A. Winsor
@germy: Gee thanks, Donald. I’m happy to be classified with the nobodies and die for your reelection.
Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense. We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security alone more than the net income of all United States corporations.
Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence—economic, political, even spiritual—is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
(Dwight D. Eisenhower)
@Kay: from nothing happens to a lot of things are happening in 4 sentences! He’s like a one-man game of Telephone
QFT, and it’s true at the local level too. It’s also a budgeting choice to hire shitty police officers who terrorize, beat and murder citizens, leaving municipalities on the hook for multimillion-dollar settlements.
Do we want parks and rec and roads without potholes or hyper-militarized police forces that treat us like an occupying army? Which item can we NOT afford?
He was IN RUSSIA ON JULY 4TH!!
Look at the crowd of fans behind trump. Most of the people who bothered to wear masks are using them as chin straps.
Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes
”To date, there is no reported incident of anyone fighting off coronavirus by shooting it.”
This is a fantasy of the American right wing. I doubt that Putin believes it.
Man…Rampell brought ALL the receipts today…good!
@Jeffro: But, but the conservative Democrat leadership of the Congress and Senate just declare that they will keep Trump’s massive tax cut (rate) for corporations. They never fail to motive the base, do they?
Gin & Tonic
@Baud: Trump will not go anywhere. He will never be indicted, let alone arrested or convicted. He will spend the rest of his miserable existence noisily mouthing off, attempting to obstruct any and every government policy, and the media will lead nearly every day with a “Trump blasts…” headline. We will not be rid of him in the public sphere until he is dead, and probably not even then.
@taumaturgo: Do you have a link that would enable to me to determine what you’re referring to?
@Gin & Tonic: Good. I want him visible as a reminder, because people forget too easily.
Part of the problem is the stupid War On Drugs™ that has turned police into an occupying army organized against citizens. Did you see the recent footage of the police breaking down the door at the wrong house, and terrorizing a father, mother & daughter?
The house they were looking for was across the street. The body cam footage looks like soldiers in Iraq. A military operation.
The department paid for a new door for the family. I’m not sure if they’ll help the family with treatment for their PTSD.
@Gin & Tonic: I think you’re right, and even after Trump is dead, we’ll be stuck with his shitty children as media and possibly political figures for the rest of our lives. I’d be pleasantly surprised if it turns out otherwise.
@Baud: I have a funny feeling there isn’t one…note also use of ‘Democrat’ and mis-use of ‘motive’ =)
This cartoonist did some sketches while he was there. I’m surprised they let him in.
@Kay: I have always wanted to dissolve it.
Honestly, just the name “Homeland Security” has always creeped me out. Cringe everytime I hear it.
Trump made his pick?
@Quinerly: The only good thing about 2000 election is that Joe Lieberman did not become our VP. Wasn’t DHS his brainchild?
@germy: I don’t think I have yet deciphered why Trump associates Cory Booker with destroying housing. Is it because he thinks Newark is a shithole, Booker was mayor there, ergo he must be a destroyer of the housing market? Or is it just that Booker’s black, and it’s something he can’t credibly blame on Obama?
@PsiFighter37: All that, plus I think Booker sponsored some low-income housing bill.
Make the police pay for those settlements out of their pension fund.
@Betty Cracker: I don’t see Ivanka as the type people will take seriously without Daddy – she is clearly a dilettante in the truest sense of the word. Jared – maybe more, but he’s so in-your-face sociopathic that he’ll be ineffective. Eric is a moron, and while Junior is the loudest and most braying of the bunch, I don’t think he comes off as terribly bright either.
In short – Junior probably becomes a loudmouth on Twitter and the rest of them vanish into the background. Jared probably goes back into failing upwards at his father’s real estate company. What I don’t look forward to is if Trump declares he is running in 2024 right away…because then that jackass will continue to monopolize coverage / earned media.
@Cheryl Rofer: It was more the other way around, wasn’t it? I was surprised when I looked into this a while back to realize that the big Soviet buildup in the 1970s-80s came first.
@germy: I wonder who wins the court case of Stand Your Ground v. Run Them Over.
Yes! Rather than the taxpayer.
They live for their pensions. They live for their overtime (especially the last year before retirement, to pad the pension) and this might be the motivation they need for some internal attitude adjustments.
Why the hell not? We outspend the next 10 countries, combined. If you see some guy walking down the street, loaded down with armament, what would you think? That’s what the world thinks of us, isn’t it?
@Dorothy A. Winsor: exactly. “Homeland” sounded like something out of Nazi-era Germany or Soviet-era Russia the first time I heard it under Bush. With a capital letter, it looks ominous, as it has turned out to be.
@brantl: Because it will be a political loser and prevent us from achieving our aims.
@Baud: Don’t defund the military. Make the military spend their money better. No more $150 billion toys. Make troop salaries actually worth joining. Expand the GI Bill. Improve weapons systems rather than have contractors promise new toys that end up not working. And audit the everloving fuck out of the DoD. Time for some accountability.
@germy: They live for their overtime (especially the last year before retirement, to pad the pension)
I’ve wondered about the numbers – would hiring more police to reduce overtime actually be cheaper? Would hiring non-arresting officers for traffic control bring down costs? Pre-Covid, we’d have cops directing traffic to empty out large parking lots, for sporting events and even churches.
Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes
It has a nonzero chance of passing into law, which is why I’m OK with terminating SS and Medicare payments to Florida seniors when Biden wins.
Let them live in the quality and style of their voting patterns. I want granny to have to gum cat food.
Enhanced Voting Techniques
@germy: Probably be for the best if Trump slunk of into obscurity I suppose as much as Trump deserve a treason trial.
I hate hate hate the term Homeland Security. It is really creepy. I’ve had to deal with it tangentially in my job; for many years I was our agency’s liaison with the emergency folks, which of course became Homeland Security. It’s a terrible name. After we change that, how about changing the Department of Defense back to Department of War?
Interesting. Thanks for the pointer.
All money in the government isn’t the same, and it doesn’t all arrive or have to be spent at the same time. As much as the US spends on DoD, there still isn’t enough to meet the genuine needs of the huge infrastructure and commitments that we’ve made, so they’re constantly juggling the books to try to keep everything from crashing down.
I imagine that this story is far from unusual, and it sounds like Congress was informed.
Few non-American historians think that the 1980s Reagan era arms spending bankrupted the Soviet Union. They tend to think 1- The USSR overinflated its military spending, and 2- the purchase of grain and consumer goods in the 60s/70s created a huge cash outflow from Russia to Western Europe. The USSR so screwed up grain production and distribution that they constantly had to buy more expensive food shipped in. The 50s and 60s also were beneficial to USSR in that much of the developing world wanted Russian technology and exports. By 1980 other players on the world stage had advanced enough to cut into the USSR’s industries, leaving them with petrodollars and arms sales.
@Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes:
There you go again with that again. Is it a cynical attempt to be funny, or do you really think that in a country where we pay farmers not to grow food we should allow people to go hungry?
clap clap clap clap
@Enhanced Voting Techniques:
Maybe you were saying this, but there are those in the US who benefit from such spending. And there are states that benefit, so it’s a political lever as well.
I know it would require a reporter to do some heavy lifting, but it would be nice if one of them could ask Espy “How many Americans did you kill with this decision?” This was a diversion when testing supplies and PPEs were extra critical.
@prostratedragon: Honestly, I’ve seen it said that the USSR just never even tried to match the US buildup, and I don’t see why anyone would expect them to, now.
In fact, it sounds like something Putin might suggest as a way for his puppet to pretend he’s being “tough on Russia”. It does no harm to Russia; it harms the US both by pointless, wasted resource usage, and Yet Another Big Post-Truth Partisan Battle.
If I were Putin, it would tickle me to think that Trump would advance some of the stupidest reasons for a military buildup, and cause more “divisiveness” by one political party pointing out that it’s stone cold stupid, pointless, and useless, and the other screaming the first is trying to let the Russians eat our babies.
@germy: They’ve got three chins each, something has to hold them up.
@Baud: It won’t be a loser if you say the money you keep will actually be spent on the troops. Which the Republicans never do….. And then say that you will spend some of the defrayed money restoring the State Department, as well….
@Gin & Tonic: like Betty, I think you’re right too.
And he’s going to have to be removed physically, he will never go voluntarily. The orderly and civil transfer of power will be another norm he will shred. Another institution, for so long taken on faith, undermined and politicized.