The Answer: Cut Arts Funding
The Washington Post’s Walter Pincus, who reads Government Accountability Office reports so you don’t have to, summarizes a GAO report that the Pentagon will spend $1.6 trillion, and another $335 billion over the next five years, on major weapons systems. This follows a different audit that found $300 billion in cost overruns for weapons systems. GAO artfully concludes that maybe some of these weapons systems should go (”….Congress will be faced with a difficult choice to either pull funds from other federal programs to support Defense acquisitions or accept less war fighting capability than promised”). But is there any chance of that happening?
Pincus suggests that the continued funding of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars make it harder to also justify giving defense money to all these fanciful weapons programs. Especially since many of the priciest programs, like unmanned helicopters and amphibious tanks, are nowhere to be found in Iraq and Afghanistan. And GAO, whose reports often bemoan increasing government spending, predicts that a reduced call for spending might jeopardize these programs.
The latest defense spending bill, though, passed by the House and the Senate Armed Services committee, pushes for more oversight of defense spending but does little to reduce it. So while there may be some time in the future where members of Congress cut the Pentagon budget, that time is not now. Long live the $3.15 billion remotely piloted helicopter.