Pro-Austerity Tea Partier Caught Funneling Nearly A Billion Tax Dollars To Military Industrial Complex

The excesses of the military industrial complex and the arms contractors that profit off it go a long way for accounting for our nation’s gluttonous defense budget, which is accounts for more than half a trillion dollars – more than the next six countries combined. While the so-called “Freedom Caucus” rails against government spending and obstinately demands cuts for food stamps and the social safety net, they sing a very different tune when it comes to spending on armaments, especially when it’s for their own district.

We can thank Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio’s 4th Congressional District for bringing this all to light. Jordon has been virulently opposed to federal spending, but when it’s going to benefit his own district, the five-term Republican doesn’t think twice about it. As it turns out, Jordan has influenced the government to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a factory located in his district for the sole purpose of making Abrams tanks for the U.S. Army – tanks the Army didn’t want or need. Mandy Smithberger, director of the Straus Military Reform Project, even called the factory “a favorite program for Ohio delegation earmarks, against the needs of the Army” and said the plant was “one of the poster children for Congress adding funding for programs the military neither wants nor needs, for parochial reasons.”

As a result, the factory has been a complete burden on both our budget and our national security because vital programs are unable to get adequate funding while we produce highly expensive combat vehicles that we don’t need. Still, Jordan continues to portray himself as a budget slashing champion of austerity. According to the Tea Partier’s website, “federal government spending is out of control, and it is the responsibility of Congress to fix the problem.”

To put this into perspective, here are just a few things Jordan has done to unravel government spending:

  • Oppose federal funding for Planned Parenthood
  • Refer to the Export-Import Bank, which finances foreign purchases of American goods, a “waste of money.”
  • Co-sponsored a bill to cut food stamps to “move our country away from a culture of dependency and back toward a culture of work and upward mobility.”
  • Lead the 2011 Budget Control Act to mandate federal spending cuts.

And yet, he still managed to put almost a billion dollars into creating unneeded tanks for the Army, even though the budget didn’t account for them. It is beginning to be very clear that there is a strong link between Congress, defense spending, and profiteering corporations in America making billions off of taxpayer dollars- the armed forces have too much stuff, and keep buying more anyway. “We have about $14 billion of inventory for lots of reasons, and probably half of that is excess to what we need” says Navy Vice Admiral Mark Harnitchek. In 2012, a report found that the military had “$733 million worth of supplies and equipment on order that was already stocked in excess amounts on warehouse shelves. That figure was up 21% from $609 million a year earlier. The Defense Department defines “excess inventory” as anything more than a three-year supply.”Jordan justified this in an op-ed when he wrote:

“We have long advocated for policies that put our fiscal house in order, and reducing our massive national debt should be one of our nation’s highest priorities. But we shouldn’t do so by putting our national defense at risk.”

“This year’s appropriation of $120 million in additional funding for the Abrams tank program will go a long way towards doing that.”

What Jordan left out was that the money that went to the tanks wasn’t “additional” at all. Jordan and his fellow pro-tank lawmakers used money from other scaled-back initiatives such as training. Earlier this year, Army chief of staff Gen. Raymond Odierno said:

“We are still having to procure systems we don’t need. Excess tanks is an example in the Army, hundreds of millions of dollars spent on tanks that we simply don’t have the structure for anymore.”

But thanks to Jordan, there are now hundreds of extra tanks laying around. The GOPer loves to argue that they’re absolutely necessary to national security, even when the Department of Defense has indicated they don’t want or need them. It is very clear that there is a link between Congress, defense spending, and profiteering corporations in America making billions off of taxpayer dollars- the armed forces have too much stuff, and keep buying more anyway. “We have about $14 billion of inventory for lots of reasons, and probably half of that is excess to what we need” says Navy Vice Admiral Mark Harnitchek.

In 2012, a report found that the military had “$733 million worth of supplies and equipment on order that was already stocked in excess amounts on warehouse shelves. That figure was up 21% from $609 million a year earlier. The Defense Department defines “excess inventory” as anything more than a three-year supply.” It’s an example of Republican fiscal hypocrisy at its worst – always money for arms dealers, but never any money for hungry children or families in need.

h/t to the Daily Beast

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Colin Taylor

Colin Taylor is the managing editor of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.


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