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  • House Strikes Out in Disciplining Security Spending

    In voting to prop up funding for COPS and fire grants—two discredited programs that fail to deliver any bang for our security bucks—the House calls in to question its credibility that it is going to cut spending while not compromising on our security.

    What security hawk could argue that when it comes to government spending, “everything,” including security spending, is on the table? After all, defense is under-funded: The Pentagon has been on a decades-long “procurement holiday,” failing to modernize its aging fleet of vehicles, ships, and planes. Money ill-spent elsewhere could go toward buying the equipment our men and women will need to defend us in the years ahead. As for homeland security, “feel-good” programs that spread federal largesse but do little to actually make us safer drain dollars from the work that Washington really needs to be doing.

    Two votes yesterday call into question whether the House is really making tough calls or just talking tough.

    First, by a vote of 228–203, $300 million in funding was restored for the Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, doubling the size of the program. Heritage has studied the COPS program to death and found that rather than enhancing public safety, it has actually done the opposite. After an exorbitant amount of money, “COPS failed to reach its goal of adding 100,000 additional police officers despite spending almost $11 billion from FY 1995 to FY 2003. Despite a sizeable monetary investment, thorough and independent evaluations of the COPS program have found that it failed to achieve its primary goal of placing an additional 100,000 officers on the streets.”

    Furthermore, COPS grants were frequently abused or misspent. The whole concept of COPS has proven to be completely wrongheaded. Large federal grants distributed for use at the discretion of state and local police departments discourage accountability and efficiency. They severely undermine the incentives for state and local governments to use taxpayer money efficiently by disconnecting the receipt and use of that money from political accountability for using it wisely and effectively.

    Second, the House increased Homeland Security firefighter grants by over $500 million to a total of over $800 million. This program has also been proven demonstrably wasteful. The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis evaluated the effectiveness of fire grants by matching fire grant award data to the National Fire Incident Reporting System, an incident-based database of fire-related emergencies reported by fire departments. The Heritage evaluation compared fire departments that received grants to fire departments that did not receive grants. In addition, the evaluation compared the impact of the grants before and after grant-funded fire departments received federal assistance. The results: Fire grants were ineffective at reducing fire casualties, failing to reduce deaths and injuries for either firefighters or civilians. Without receiving fire grants, comparison fire departments were just as successful at preventing fire casualties as grant-funded fire departments.

    The bottom line is that the facts and figure prove that both programs are a waste of money—yet the House pumped money into them anyway. Small coincidence that these programs bring the bacon back home to communities all across the country?

    Meanwhile, the House seems ready to line up and cut at least $13 billion from the defense budget, though there is plenty of evidence to show that these impacts will hurt the troops, undermine readiness, and drive up the cost of buying new equipment over the long term.

    Cutting real programs and protecting pork is not how the nation expects Congress to address the challenge of funding the nation’s security.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    10 Responses to House Strikes Out in Disciplining Security Spending

    1. George Colgrove, VA says:

      I agree with everything you said about the house putting back that wasteful spending, but my God, the cuts in the defense department were warranted. The military (i.e. the soldiers) did not want the jet engine legislation. It was nothing more than a kickback to a defense contractor (GE) and amounted to nothing more than a wasteful jobs program. This is a justifiable item for removal. It represented nothing more than wasteful spending. How many soldiers have come on these blogs and told us stories like how they had to buy all new gas masks because they “had to” even though all they really needed to do was just do a little up-keep on the ones they bought last year. The DoD is nothing more than a department that funnels ever scarcer taxpayer dollars to defense contractors and congressional special interests.

      We have to get a grip on things. Since a couple years after WWII, defense spending has hovered around $460 billion in 2011 dollars – sometimes a little higher – sometimes a little lower. When there is a skirmish (i.e. Korea) we would get up to about $550 billion or so. Today we are spending as if we were fighting World War II. Except that in WWII we only did it for three years. This administration and the one before has us spending at WWII levels for over 4 years now, with no stop in sight.

      If you want to get rid of entitlements, go for it. I am behind you. However, I am not going to hold my breath for those cuts to be made soon. SS and MC/MC has been purposely made into the most complex government body. That complexity needs precision thinking to get us out from under it. People have used SS as a retirement plan and are counting on it. You just cannot pull the plug on it just to protect defense spending. That is not rational. What the government has done to that “service” is criminal. It should have never been created in the first place. Now they have attached so much to it, I am surprised it has not already collapsed – maybe it has and they are just lying to us (would not be the first time from these goons). Nevertheless, we still need to eradicate 40% of it NOW! I feel we can do that by going after fraud, waste and getting the private sector (who is by far much more cost effective and efficient than the federal workforce) to do the administration of it.

      Right now, we are going hog-wild working with the Taliban to ensure this nation is buried in debt. As far as defense spending goes, what is the goal? To protect us from the enemy? Who is the enemy? China? THEY OWN US! They do not need a military to wield their control over us. They have something far more powerful than a military – far more powerful than a nuke, they have our debt! In an instant, they can say they no longer have faith in the US debt and boom! They own our fiscal policy and can start dictating terms. All without a bullet being fired. I think they will then have the resolve to kill not only our defense budget but also social security and practically everything else. We end up paying our taxes to them for their needs.

      We need to cut 40% of the federal government. It is that simple. We are in a national emergency! Our security is compromised by the debt. We need to cut 40% of ALL spending. Fortunately, for all of the defense spending we are suffering under, 60% of the total budget ($579 billion) is still over $100 billion over what has been customary for the DoD – their budget is that big! Meaning cutting 40% of the DoD budget will still leave them 26% above customary spending. They are still ahead! If it cost us taxpayers $3 billion to buy a single submarine; $5 billion to buy a single aircraft carrier; and $2 billion to buy a single destroyer – some of the biggest ticket items the DoD buys, I cannot see why an extra $100 billion is not enough to modernize the military with. A $1.5 billion missile defense system is often discussed – there is more than enough money to do it.

      Now if they want to waste billions of defense dollars with issuing parking permits, with building maintenance, with managing a fleet of civilian passenger cars, with humanitarian efforts, with using the most expensive and least effective self-serving and unionized civilian workforce on the planet, supporting a 700,000 person bureaucracy, with performing fruitless open government initiatives, with performing human resources services, with managing a large payroll bureaucracy and so on, then they are showing that they do not have priorities straight. These things can be done outside the DoD using non-defense dollars. Our problem is not funding the war effort and soldiers needs – even at 60% there is much too much money available. Even at 60% of the current budget, the DoD will be spending 6 times more than the next largest defense budget (China). The problem is that the DoD has criminal levels of waste. They do much of their work with non-bid contracts. The DoD is an open vein in the body and blood is pouring out.

      The efficient use of $579 billion that is fully dedicated to the war effort and soldiers needs; free of waste, fraud and abuse is more than likely far more than what is being used today for the same thing.

      Heritage, you need to listen to yourselves as you reference Mike Mullins. He said it all. He even admitted almost two years ago that the DoD doubled their spending in 6 short years since 9/11 and admitted that cannot be sustained. This was even backed up by Hillary Clinton no less.

      We do not need you to be a cheerleader of massive overspending in the area of defense. We need you to keep a hard eye on what is spent in the DoD and make sure what they do is truly the best thing for the country. Right now, the primary thing we need to do is to get our debt under control. Everything must be reduced – everything! Defending a Jet engine when even the upper levels in the DoD said they did not need is not being a good watch dog. As far as I can say, that was an easy few billion that we got rid of and it did not touch the effectiveness of our war effort. Now let us go for some more.

    2. O_Henry says:

      This is relatively small spending. I would not attempt to judge the tenor of the representatives or their real commitment to cut spending until they address entitlements. Entitlements are where the real "big bucks" are spent.

    3. R Holland, Chandler, says:

      It would be great if the Heritage Foundation website could post the voting results by name and state when listing these spending bills take place so that we can keep score of who we need to flush out of office.

    4. Dennis Georgia says:

      Elections are coming again, those that vote to increase spending, not cuts will be remembered. These two programs appear to be great on their face, but when push comes to shove they fail to provide any thing of substance.

    5. Dave S says:

      They just do not appear to be truly serious about cutting out wasteful spending.

      I have followed their passed & rejected bills thus far and I do not see where they

      are living up to their word.

    6. Barrett Lagerqust - says:

      I remember in the nineties when President Clinton had said they were going to put 100,000 new police officers on the streets. In the city I was living they used the money to replace officers that had quit or retired.They would use that money for the new officers salary and only pay 25% the first year,50% the second year, 75% the third year, and finally absorb full cost in the fourth year. The Police Chief of Kansas City said at that time that if he could afford the 25% he would have extra officers on the street already. Seems this is much the same kind of boondoggle.

    7. Laura says:

      Why is there any increased spending anywhere? Increasing spending is NOT acceptable!

    8. Leon Lundquist, Dura says:

      Nobody wants to knock the Police. Ask me the Progressive Agenda has made Police Thought Crime Racketeers, quite against their will. You have Prosecutors training Police, crossing the Judiciary with the Executive. Nobody notices! Do you know that Statistical Probabilities are called Damages! Yeah! Million to one possibilities are punished like crimes! A hundred thousand new Police? Are they Progressive Thought Crime Police? Are they the ones who prefer to go after Republicans? Or the ones that prefer to go after Business? The generality Police, is like Obama's famous generality, Change. What kind of Police?

      Union payoffs and boondoggles were never intended to have real results, they are usually designed opposite what Union Members really need. Sweeney probably drove more American Jobs overseas than any other person on the face of the Earth! Gee! Is that why Obama gave him the Medal Of Freedom? Puke! It is a Pay Off! Sweeney served the Progressive Agenda NOT the Union Members. And the Union promotes Socialism, the older experienced guys get nothing extra for their experience. So they lose that golden earning time at non Union shops they get more money. The Unions take that away! They are adamant that you don't actually get ahead! Then! This pack of infiltrators killed our jobs and now they want to kill our Economy! And without shame!

      There they are! Organizing unrest so as to sweep the World in chaos! Yeah! That's what you get when you put a corrupt Community Organizer into the Presidency! But Obama has no American Values! He's a Third Generation Communist Activist! Now in Egypt the Unions are wrecking the nation with Hope, Change, pie in the sky, the same tripe Obama used on those poor dumb Democrats! Shudder! It worked!

    9. James Carafano james carafano says:

      The second engine cut on the F35 is simply a canard. Even the GAO says the second engine would save $20 billion over the life of the program, because the competing engines would keep the cost of replacement engines down. The DOD does not want it because they are struggling to pay their bills in the short term. First, of all you wont even save $2 billion because of contract termination costs and it will cost you more than 10 times that in the out years, yeah great deal smart thinking on the part of Congress, great deal for the taxpayer,,,,no in cutting the engine everybody loses.

    10. Norma in Nebraska says:

      Here's the real solution to our problem:

      1) Eliminate ALL of the government departments that are useless, ineffective, or perform duplicate responsibilities. (ie, Dept of Education, Dept of Energy, etc.) Return responsibilities, along with all related monies, to the State level so that the people can control the spending at a more local level.

      2) Send all of our elected officials home to their constituents so they have to face them on a daily basis. We could eliminate their massive staff expenses, huge paychecks and petty cash funds. If they have to meet, they can do what I have to do: use "gotomeeting.com" and then only go to Washington for about a month each quarter to do the necessary voting. . . and they can ALL sleep in their closets in their offices for all I care! In addition, this would remedy the problem we have with lobbyists that are a detriment to our spending.

      3) Cut every single remaining government department by 10% each year for the next 5 years. By the nature of having less money to spend, each department would become a better watch dog and thus eliminate fraud and waste in their own department. When it impacts their paychecks, self-preservation will kick in and they will become fiscal hawks.

      4) REQUIRE each department to cut their employee rolls. They will have to do what private businesses do: do more with less.

      5) RAISE the retirement age and create personal savings accounts for each contributing citizen under the age of 45 for social security and medicare.

      How is that for a start? I think a 50% cut in spending over the next five years would go a long way to correcting poor fiscal spending. All this "picking and choosing" drives me crazy because there is no way it can be done fairly. Yes, tightening our spending belt is going to be painful for all of us but when you know that we will ALL be suffering in the same way, it makes it easier for all us to endure.

      And we may re-learn what our forefathers used to know: there is a difference between "wants" and "needs", and it is time for us to learn the difference! And that certainly can't be a bad thing . . . .

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