Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Pentagon Cries Foul over 'Pork' in Its Budget with US Military Readiness Shrinking, Top Brass Are Calling for Greater Scrutiny of Lawmakers' Pet Projects

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Pentagon Cries Foul over 'Pork' in Its Budget with US Military Readiness Shrinking, Top Brass Are Calling for Greater Scrutiny of Lawmakers' Pet Projects

Article excerpt

It has become almost an annual autumn rite for Congress to pad the military budget with pet projects that lubricate votes and campaign cash back home.

Some of these add-ons, estimated at $5 billion for fiscal 1999, are of no military use, going to popular local projects such as landfill development or hospitals. Those that are defense-related often benefit firms in lawmakers' home districts by forcing the services to buy hardware they don't want.

The Pentagon in the past has tolerated this so-called pork- barrel spending. By keeping relations cordial with the politicians who control their purse strings, the generals seek to safeguard their own pet projects. Nor do they want to see more post-cold-war defense sector closures. This year, however, has been different. As evidence grows of an erosion in combat readiness, the services may seek up to $75 billion in additional funds over the next five years to replace worn-out equipment, boost training, and hike pay and benefits. Tolerating budget-stuffing makes the case for raising the $271 billion Pentagon budget harder to justify, especially since the US is forecast to remain without a military peer for years to come. "The problem has taken on more significance," says Steve Kosiak of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington think tank. "Add-ons have the potential to do more damage today than they did a year or five years ago." The reason is the 1997 balanced-budget agreement, which calls for keeping the Pentagon's budget flat through 2002. With inflation, that means military spending will continue its post-cold-war drop. THE Pentagon's concerns with congressional "pork" became clear last month, when top brass took public aim at pet projects of their congressional counterparts, Senate majority leader Trent Lott and Speaker Newt Gingrich. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.