On Friday, the House of Representatives passed a defense bill. That might seem like a good thing, but it really isn't, because this bill puts waste and cronyism before national security.
First off, it funds a new military command, the Space Corps. No, I'm not joking.
The Space Corps, which would completely replicate the already tasked Air Force Space Command, is a total waste of money. It would do what the military bureaucracy does best, build costly bureaucratic infrastructure that slows down rather than speeds up the effective deployment of force. It would spend money to make the military less capable. Why do some members of Congress want this command? Because it will bring dollars to their districts. There's only one good thing about the Space Corps: Its name. That's all.
That speaks to another wasteful failing of this bill. In a pathetic repudiation of their claims to spending frugality, many Republicans voted against an effort by Congressman Tom McClintock, R-Calif., to authorize the Defense Department to close military bases at home and abroad that America no longer needs. Click here and look for your Member of Congress. If they are listed under "Noes", you'll know that they put cronyism before national defense.
If I seem upset, it's because I am. After all, the reason these members are voting "no" is because they want to protect wasteful spending in their districts. They would rather the Pentagon spent its dollars keeping unneeded bases open, rather than investing in the training, equipment, and capabilities to win our nation's wars. It's a pathetic neglect of political duty.
Even then, there are other issues with the House bill.
For one, led by Speaker Ryan, who normally leads on fiscal reform, Republicans are patting themselves on the back for authorizing another military pay rise. Again, that might sound good, but military personnel costs (especially retiree health programs) are rapidly draining money from the Pentagon's warfighting capabilities. In the end, the military should exist to fight and win wars. Not as a jobs program. The military has had a good record of pay increases over the past ten years, which were necessary to right historic underpayment. Now, however, we should only authorize pay increases for operational specialties short of personnel.
Ultimately, this budget is unserious. It refuses to make the hard choices necessary for the United States to balance our national security with taxpayer accountability. As I've noted, while the Defense Department needs a lot of money, it can be made far more efficient and lethal. That will only happen if we have the leadership in Washington to make it happen.
Now our hopes rest with the reconciliation process. If the Senate takes the lead for the American people, a lot of the garbage in this budget can be removed.
If not, President Trump should veto the bill and send it back to Congress. If they fail in their responsibility, the President must rise to his.