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Sunday, October 31, 2010

An open letter to the Tea Party

If you want to find rage-inspiring examples of government spending, there is no better place to look than the military budget. Here are some examples that should raise the blood pressure of any self-respecting Tea Partier:

The US has over 100 military bases in Germany alone. These bases may have made sense when we feared a Soviet attack on Western Europe, but the Cold War ended 20 years ago. Why is American taxpayers' money being spent on bases that stimulate the economy of Germany, while defending NATO against a threat that no longer exists? Gen. Roger Brady, who commands US air forces in Europe, says "we've got too many daggone bases," and we could save millions of dollars by closing some of them. We should listen to our commander in Europe.

Since 2001, the US has spent over $55 billion on Afghan reconstruction. Much of this money has been wasted and has fueled corruption in Afghanistan. For example, USAID earmarked $100 million of American taxpayers' money on the Khost-Ghardez Highway, but, due to a militant attack, opted to abandon the project halfway through until security improves. The Army spent $5.5 million to build seven police headquarters, five of which were not completed. And if you want a "bridge to nowhere," the Army built a million-dollar suspension bridge in Afghanistan, but it is useless since no road leads to it. Further, under the $2.2 billion Host Nation Trucking contract, the Pentagon pays protection money to corrupt Afghan security companies that, accordingto the New York Times, gives some of this money to the Taliban to assure safe passage of American supplies.

The Pentagon cannot account for $2.6 billion that it spent in Iraq. According to congressional investigators, Halliburton overbilled American taxpayers by as much as $1.4 billion for services in Iraq. This included $45 for cases of soda, and $1,000 for VCRs. According to Fox News, Halliburton overbilled the taxpayer $61 million for gasoline.

Then there are the "little" things (by Pentagon standards). For example, the American taxpayer is spending $4.4 million to move an Army band from Maryland to Alabama and to build them a new rehearsal room, music library, and practice rooms. Taxpayers are also paying $683,000 to renovate a café; $773,000 for a Taco Bell; and $60,000 for a batting cage at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.

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