The American people don’t particularly like most tax increases, or any specific government spending cuts, but in general they do fear we spend too much on our military, which is also by far the largest chunk of discretionary spending in the federal budget. The latest Gallup poll found that a plurality of Americans, 39 percent, think we spend too much on defense while 35 percent thinks it is about right, and only 22 percent thinks it is too little.
In fact, some of the waste in our massive military budget is so glaring that even Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is begging Congress to cut a few of the most egregious military boondoggles, like the $3 billion spent on a second F-35 engine.
So, the question must be asked: why, with decent popular support and the military the largest target for potential low-impact cuts on regular Americans, do the House Republicans, in defiance of any theory of democracy or logic, insist on cutting jobs training, direct jobs programs and food assistance while making effectively no cuts to defense? Even cutting the highly publicized, wasteful second F-35 engine after Gates plea to end it was still opposed by over half of House Republicans and Speaker John Boehner.
The only reasonable answer, of course, is that, unlike regular Americans, defense contractors have money to give to members of Congress.
When the government provides assistance to struggling Americans in hard times, all it does is make their lives and their families’ lives better. What members of Congress get in return is gratitude, and little else.
On the other hand, when Congress gives billions to a few big defense contractors to fund weapon systems we don’t even need, all of the sudden those defense contractors now have several hundred million dollars they can easily skim off the top of these contracts. Money they didn’t really earn and are happy to give to members of Congress in the form of campaign donations or super lucrative “consulting” jobs when they retire to keep the gravy train following.
As long as we allow companies to legally give large amounts of money to members of Congress that do them favors, we will never solve our deficit issues. We don’t have a deficit problem, we have a corruption problem that happens to increase our deficit.