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Can "Both Sides" Finally Agree? Pentagon/ DoD Are Fiscal Disasters (1 Viewer)

Herb

Footballguy
Where does the Pentagon's $700 Billion/ year budget go?

Bit of a long read, but important. The Pentagon is a bottomless spending pit that cannot be audited because the structure of its accounting is designed to be too obtuse to be deciphered. The solution? Let's waste billions more paying accounting firms to tell us it's a mess.

Some pertinent quotes from the article:

Andy sometimes visits his neighborhood library, which uses RFID smart labels, or radio frequency identification, allowing it to know where all its books are at all times.

Meanwhile, the Air Force, which has a $156 billion annual budget, still doesn’t always use serial numbers. It has no idea how much of almost anything it has at any given time. Nuclear weapons are the exception, and it started electronically tagging those only after two extraordinary mistakes, in 2006 and 2007. In the first, the Air Force accidentally loaded six nuclear weapons in a B-52 and flew them across the country, unbeknownst to the crew. In the other, the services sent nuclear nose cones by mistake to Taiwan, which had asked for helicopter batteries.
Despite being the taxpayers’ greatest investment — more than $700 billion a year — the Department of Defense has remained an organizational black box throughout its history. It’s repelled generations of official inquiries, the latest being an audit three decades in the making, mainly by scrambling its accounting into such a mess that it may never be untangled.

Ahead of misappropriation, fraud, theft, overruns, contracting corruption and other abuses that are almost certainly still going on, the Pentagon’s first problem is its books. It’s the world’s largest producer of wrong numbers, an ingenious bureaucratic defense system that hides all the other rats’ nests underneath. Meet the Gordian knot of legend, brought to life in modern America.
AT THE TAIL end of last year, the Department of Defense finally completed an audit. At a cost of $400 million, some 1,200 auditors charged into the jungle of military finance, but returned in defeat. They were unable to pass the Pentagon or flunk it. They could only offer no opinion, explaining the military’s empire of hundreds of acronymic accounting silos was too illogical to penetrate.

The audit is the last piece in one of the great ###-covering projects ever undertaken, also known as the effort to give the United States government a clean bill of financial health. Twenty-nine years ago, in 1990, Congress ordered all government agencies to begin producing audited financial statements. Others complied. Defense refused from the jump.
We do, however, know the Pentagon’s books are so choked with bad data that discovering abuses in real time is virtually impossible. Compound that with decades of cuts to the Pentagon’s staff of criminal investigators and you have an open invitation to crime. Invoices could be systematically inflated for decades and no one would know. As Andy the Air Force accountant puts it, the system is “desensitized to fraud.”
Just over 50 years ago, Dwight Eisenhower gave his famous farewell address warning of the power of the “military-industrial complex.” The former war commander bemoaned the creation of a “permanent armaments industry of vast proportions,” and said the “potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

Eisenhower’s warning is celebrated by the left as a caution against the overweening political power of warmakers, but as we’re now seeing, it was predictive also as a fiscal conservative’s nightmare vision of the future. The military has become an unstoppable mechanism for hoovering up taxpayer dollars and deploying them in the most inefficient manner possible. Schools crumble, hospitals and obstetric centers close all over the country, but the armed services are filling warehouses for some programs with “1,000 years’ worth of inventory,” as one Navy logistics officer recently put it.

It’s the ultimate example of the immutability of the American political system. Even when there’s broad bipartisan consensus, and laws passed, and both money allocated for changes and agencies created to enact them — if the problem is big enough, time bends toward corruption, and chaos always outlasts reform. Eisenhower couldn’t have predicted how right he was.
It's time to slash defense spending. Period. Complain all you want about wasteful government programs. There's a lot of fixing that needs to be done. But social programs aren't the place to start. DoD is the biggest offender as far as fraud and waste, and it's not close.

 

NCCommish

Footballguy
The DOD is rife with malfeasance and corruption. Imagine the outcry if any social safety net program had 1/100 these issues. Defense spending is out of control. When you put in estimated black budget spending of 2-300 million, we are at 1 trillion annually. Its strangling this countries ability to do the things we need to do right here for us. But no one ever asks how you going to pay for that.

 
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Herb

Footballguy
Doubtful one side will agree. They will instead claim you hate our soldiers and veterans.

But it’s massively bloated and out of control.
This pierces the very heart of fiscal conservatism. Hell, Chuck Grassley has been leading the charge against this mess for decades. It has nothing to do with the fine people who make up the vast majority of armed service people. It is an issue of accountability and massive fraud.

 

Murph

Footballguy
Doubtful one side will agree. They will instead claim you hate our soldiers and veterans.

But it’s massively bloated and out of control.
Neither "side" will agree. After telling me for almost two years that Trump is a maniac controlled by Putin, a grand total of 7 Senate democrats (8 if you count Bernie) voted against giving him the largest defense budget in real dollars since the Iraq War.

The only sides here are the military industrial complex (and the politicians they own) vs the people.

 

sho nuff

Footballguy
This pierces the very heart of fiscal conservatism. Hell, Chuck Grassley has been leading the charge against this mess for decades. It has nothing to do with the fine people who make up the vast majority of armed service people. It is an issue of accountability and massive fraud.
Totally agree...it’s why I’ve been saying for some time that the idea of fiscal conservativism has been mostly dead.

It’s simply political conservatism.  Cut from anything seem as liberal but continue to let the deficit and spending on the DOD explode with no controls.

 

Joe Bryant

Guide
Staff member
Doubtful one side will agree. They will instead claim you hate our soldiers and veterans.




 
I've no doubt that'll be the popular sentiment. But I don't think it's right. I have a friend who works as a DOD contractor and he's said for years it's massively bloated and wasteful and thinks we should absolutely fix it. And he's one of the most die-hard conservatives I know. And also happens to be a Trump supporter for what it's worth. 

I do find it interesting some people feel one cannot be both for a strong military and for cutting waste and bloat. 

 

sho nuff

Footballguy
I've no doubt that'll be the popular sentiment. But I don't think it's right. I have a friend who works as a DOD contractor and he's said for years it's massively bloated and wasteful and thinks we should absolutely fix it. And he's one of the most die-hard conservatives I know. And also happens to be a Trump supporter for what it's worth. 

I do find it interesting some people feel one cannot be both for a strong military and for cutting waste and bloat. 
And from what I’ve seen of the rhetoric when it’s discussed, he is in the minority to agree to that.

 

Joe Bryant

Guide
Staff member
And from what I’ve seen of the rhetoric when it’s discussed, he is in the minority to agree to that.
From our huge base of conservatives here? 

And he may well be in the minority. But I know lots of conservatives who want to cut waste. In all areas. 

Again, one can be in favor of cutting waste and be for a strong military. 

 
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The General

Footballguy
The DOD is rife with malfeasance and corruption. Imagine the outcry if any social safety net program had 1/100 these issues. Defense spending is out of control. When you put in estimated black budget spending of 2-300 million, we are at 1 trillion annually. Its strangling this countries ability to do the things we need to do right here for us. But no one ever asks how you going to pay for that.
Amen to the issue you pointed out about how this waste is waived away but God forbid if the government spends a couple million on PBS or some arts program.

 

Ilov80s

Footballguy
My BIL was an officer and an assistant to an Admiral. He absolutely said the Navy was a huge waste of money. Every year they asked for more money because they could, not because they needed it. They would ask for the money and figure out what to do with it later. Often they wasted it just so they could justify asking for more the next year. 

 

Herb

Footballguy
My BIL was an officer and an assistant to an Admiral. He absolutely said the Navy was a huge waste of money. Every year they asked for more money because they could, not because they needed it. They would ask for the money and figure out what to do with it later. Often they wasted it just so they could justify asking for more the next year. 
The article in the OP covers some of this. The issue you speak of directly induces accounting felonies to be perpetrated. 

 

Joe Bryant

Guide
Staff member
My BIL was an officer and an assistant to an Admiral. He absolutely said the Navy was a huge waste of money. Every year they asked for more money because they could, not because they needed it. They would ask for the money and figure out what to do with it later. Often they wasted it just so they could justify asking for more the next year. 
Yes. It's how tons of inefficient business run. Private too. It's why I hate the budget based model where you look at what they spent last year and bump it up some. It's an awful way to do business.

The difference between Footballguys and the Navy is the body or company watching how the money is spent. Footballguys has me. And no parent company. The Navy's parent company prints money. Literally. 

 

joffer

Footballguy
How would you even begin to fix something like that?  Seems like any fix would be (for a time) very destructive and disruptive, making it really unpopular. I doubt much of the public would see the long term benefits to tolerate the short term turmoil.

 
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DocHolliday

Footballguy
My BIL was an officer and an assistant to an Admiral. He absolutely said the Navy was a huge waste of money. Every year they asked for more money because they could, not because they needed it. They would ask for the money and figure out what to do with it later. Often they wasted it just so they could justify asking for more the next year. 
That is how most federal budgets are constructed.  They are allotted money for certain items such as new office furniture, phones, or computers.   They have to spend the money specifically as the budget is written.  If they need a new building surveillance system but are budgeted for office furniture, they cannot shift the money where it is needed.   Instead, the money allotted for new office furniture that is not needed is spent anyway so that it looks like their budgets are correctly forecast and so that more money can be obtained in the future. Real estate is another huge issue for the Feds.  

 

Joe Bryant

Guide
Staff member
How would you even begin to fix something like that?  Seems like any fix would be (for a time) very destructive and disruptive, making it really unpopular. I doubt much of the public would see the long term benefits to tolerate the short term turmoil.
Agreed. And that's much of the problem.

It's a little like term limits, lots of the people in charge of the policy have a vested / financial interest in the policy not changing.

I do know though people like my friend who is a contractor who'd be for the change even though it would likely cost him money. He's putting principles over money. Which I'd agree is not too common. 

 

Ilov80s

Footballguy
Yes. It's how tons of inefficient business run. Private too. It's why I hate the budget based model where you look at what they spent last year and bump it up some. It's an awful way to do business.

The difference between Footballguys and the Navy is the body or company watching how the money is spent. Footballguys has me. And no parent company. The Navy's parent company prints money. Literally. 
Yes and there are many successful businesses who either through over-ambition or influence from investors think that the business needs to constantly grow. Growth can be good but it comes with risks. Many fine small and mid-size businesses will overextend themselves, overspend, lose quality, etc. I think you made a great point about how this isn't a good model for the DoD. 

 

timschochet

Footballguy
I've no doubt that'll be the popular sentiment. But I don't think it's right. I have a friend who works as a DOD contractor and he's said for years it's massively bloated and wasteful and thinks we should absolutely fix it. And he's one of the most die-hard conservatives I know. And also happens to be a Trump supporter for what it's worth. 

I do find it interesting some people feel one cannot be both for a strong military and for cutting waste and bloat. 
You say he’s a Trump supporter. What’s so frustrating is that his point of view on the military, which is completely reasonable, was matched by Barack Obama, who attempted to cut a lot of waste out of military spending. For his efforts, Obama was labeled “anti-military”. Trump heavily criticized Obama for his cuts and promised to return military spending to previous levels or beyond. And your friend voted for Trump. 

 

Snorkelson

Footballguy
There was an article from the Washington post dec 5th 2016 about an outside audit that found the dod has about $125 billion in wasted bureaucratic spending. The report was then buried so they wouldn’t get less funding. This wasn’t from fraud or anything like that @Joe Bryant is talking about.  I can’t seem to be able to link it because of the pay wall. 

 

wikkidpissah

Footballguy
They did a DOD audit during the Clinton administration - i think there's been one since, that there's some reg which says 15 years is the max they can go without one, but i dont know the result - and the Pentagon could not account, had no receipts for $2.3 trillion, over a hundred billion a yr then, and that's when a billion meant sumn. And nobody messes because M-IC is where the true power & evil of America roosts.

 
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The Commish

Footballguy
I really struggle with the "conservatives really want to cut waste and spending" narrative, especially now.  I've sat and watched for decades, people vote for these people even though their actions are the exact opposite of "cut waste and spending".  Can't have it both ways guys :shrug:  Those guys who :hophead:  about spending while labeling Obummer "anti-military" when he tries to do something about it can take a long walk off a short pier as far as I am concerned.

That said, every time someone gives me the "how are we going to pay for it?" shtick as if they really care about that, I offer up this exact problem.  "By getting DoD and spending in our military under control".  There's no question we could have almost every entitlement known to man if we held our "defense" budgets accountable and in check instead of the "black box/hole" approach we have today.  It's disgusting.

 
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Cowboysfan8

Footballguy
Doubtful one side will agree. They will instead claim you hate our soldiers and veterans.

But it’s massively bloated and out of control.


This pierces the very heart of fiscal conservatism. Hell, Chuck Grassley has been leading the charge against this mess for decades. It has nothing to do with the fine people who make up the vast majority of armed service people. It is an issue of accountability and massive fraud.
He can't help himself 🙄

 

NCCommish

Footballguy
The Air Force had, I assume they still do, a system to report fraud,  waste and abuse. If your suggestion was taken up you got a percentage of the savings as a reward. When I was in the inspection section working with C130s we found such waste often. For instance the jump doors had a circular plexiglass porthole window. When they outside one was scratched you had to replace it. Which was pretty much every calendar inspection. However, no matter the condition, you had to replace the inside one as well since it was a two piece deal. The outside window cost about 5 bucks. The inside one, same piece of plexiglass mind you, cost over 20. And this happens over and over throughout every weapon system. Mostly they ignored us but we did get a couple small ones through and made a few hundred dollars.

 

BigSteelThrill

Footballguy
I can recall many times the Defense Department has asked for cuts and down sizes and changes-to-the-lesser over the past two decades... and the Republicans refused to follow their recommendations to cut anything along the way.

Instead they want to only cut stuff good for the basic citizenry.

Its preposterous.

 

The Commish

Footballguy
I can recall many times the Defense Department has asked for cuts and down sizes and changes-to-the-lesser over the past two decades... and the Republicans refused to follow their recommendations to cut anything along the way.

Instead they want to only cut stuff good for the basic citizenry.

Its preposterous.
They said it again with this budget proposal :shrug:  

 

NCCommish

Footballguy
I can recall many times the Defense Department has asked for cuts and down sizes and changes-to-the-lesser over the past two decades... and the Republicans refused to follow their recommendations to cut anything along the way.

Instead they want to only cut stuff good for the basic citizenry.

Its preposterous.
To be fair you can both sides this issue. Base closures, though they often make sense, are fiercely fought no matter if the district is red or blue. Same for weapons systems production. 

 

wikkidpissah

Footballguy
Y'all are likely too young to remember that after the Cold War "ended", the phrase "peacetime dividend" was being tossed around in DC and, with the US still having a deficit that could be paid down (and was, in fact the major issue of the 1992 Prez campaign) and there was a lot of talk of cutting the Pentagon budget in half and paying the deficit down with the savings.

I was playing poker for a living at the time and many of you may know that poker players looooove prop bets. The subject of "Peacetime Dividend" came up at the table, which happened to be right before Congress' summer recess. Having been on the press train for the '76 campaign and learned much about the MIC's ways from oldpro reporters, my response was, "No way will the Pentagon allow that - there will be a war before Congress reconvenes". Immediately i had 5 bets at the table, some with odds, some where the Balkans (a hot zone @ the time) didnt count etc etc. Saddam - widely considered a CIA employee throughout the Iran/Iraq war - attacked Kuwait on Aug 2 and Operation Desert Shield  announced soonafter and Desert Storm, of course, didn't touch a hair on the head of the guy who started it. A couple of players griped that we didn't actually have a war yet but witnesses promptly declared my bet won and any welchers to be frozen out of the game (SOP for prop bets @ the table). Ain't no coincidences  in MIC -

 

Joe Bryant

Guide
Staff member
There was an article from the Washington post dec 5th 2016 about an outside audit that found the dod has about $125 billion in wasted bureaucratic spending. The report was then buried so they wouldn’t get less funding. This wasn’t from fraud or anything like that @Joe Bryant is talking about.  I can’t seem to be able to link it because of the pay wall. 
And to be clear, I'm not talking about fraud. I'm talking about bloated and inefficient spending. 

 

Joe Bryant

Guide
Staff member
You say he’s a Trump supporter. What’s so frustrating is that his point of view on the military, which is completely reasonable, was matched by Barack Obama, who attempted to cut a lot of waste out of military spending. For his efforts, Obama was labeled “anti-military”. Trump heavily criticized Obama for his cuts and promised to return military spending to previous levels or beyond. And your friend voted for Trump. 
To be fair, my friend will likely vote for whoever the Republican Candidate is. I don't recall talking to my friend about this specifically President Obama was in office but I think he would have been for eliminating waste then too. 

 

timschochet

Footballguy
To be fair, my friend will likely vote for whoever the Republican Candidate is. I don't recall talking to my friend about this specifically President Obama was in office but I think he would have been for eliminating waste then too. 
But my point is that it’s a political trap. You can’t propose to do anything about it because if you do the Republicans just scream “you hate the military!” And there is no further discussion. 

The Democrats pull the same crap with Social Security and Medicare. Anytime a Republican suggests ways to modify or fix either of these (based on the fact that they will both eventually run out of money), Democrats scream “you’re taking stuff away from old people!!” And there is no further discussion. 

 

Joe Bryant

Guide
Staff member
But my point is that it’s a political trap. You can’t propose to do anything about it because if you do the Republicans just scream “you hate the military!” And there is no further discussion. 

The Democrats pull the same crap with Social Security and Medicare. Anytime a Republican suggests ways to modify or fix either of these (based on the fact that they will both eventually run out of money), Democrats scream “you’re taking stuff away from old people!!” And there is no further discussion. 
Yes. I agree with that. It seems like a nearly impossible problem to fix. I don't have any answers there. 

What's rough is it makes people super leery of paying taxes. I know people who are close to government institutions and see tons of waste and then talk about taxes and say, "I hate paying these taxes so much. I know for a fact how wasteful the government is with our money". 

 

timschochet

Footballguy
I think that if we are to ever cut any real waste out of military spending, a Republican will have to do it. And if we are to ever fix Social Security, a Democrat will have to do it. 

 

sho nuff

Footballguy
Sure

I noticed that in a rare thread where everyone should agree, you read the OP then decided to bash Republicans ...AND THEN AGREE...instead of just simply agreeing with @Herb

Because, in my opinion (like I already stated), you can't help it
So you want to instead talk about me rather than the topic.

Im going to guess that isn’t what Joe is looking for.  I’m more than happy to discuss the topic of you can ever keep it to that....and I have made several posts on it and can discuss it even more.

Given the budget cuts submitted by Trump doscissed elsewhere, the balooning deficit, and increased spending for the DOD and the history under GOP leadership in recent congress I think I’m well backed by the facts of this situation.

 
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NCCommish

Footballguy
But my point is that it’s a political trap. You can’t propose to do anything about it because if you do the Republicans just scream “you hate the military!” And there is no further discussion. 

The Democrats pull the same crap with Social Security and Medicare. Anytime a Republican suggests ways to modify or fix either of these (based on the fact that they will both eventually run out of money), Democrats scream “you’re taking stuff away from old people!!” And there is no further discussion. 
To be clear Social Security will not run out of money. It will have to pay less. The fix is easy and it doesn't require higher retirement age or taking anything away, well except a few bucks from the well to do.

 

timschochet

Footballguy
To be clear Social Security will not run out of money. It will have to pay less. The fix is easy and it doesn't require higher retirement age or taking anything away, well except a few bucks from the well to do.
I don’t necessarily disagree with you, although the small part of me that remains a fiscal conservative even now notes that “a few bucks from the well to do” seems to be an essential element of the progressive solution to every single one of society’s problems. 

 

The Commish

Footballguy
I don’t necessarily disagree with you, although the small part of me that remains a fiscal conservative even now notes that “a few bucks from the well to do” seems to be an essential element of the progressive solution to every single one of society’s problems. 
Stands to reason given the current status of our tax code and how it's written :shrug:  

 

jon_mx

Footballguy
The bureaucracy of the DoD is killing it.  The latest information assurance push will kill all progress made to field systems.  The procurement process is absolutely ridiculous.  It probably costs $50 in bureaucracy for every $1 actually spent on useful goods.  

 

ShamrockPride

Footballguy
I'm not sure of the numbers, I know they're stratospheric. Isn't it like we could cut our spending in half and still outpace whoever #2 is?

 

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