Letter: Audit Pentagon before increasing spending

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The Defense Department yearly budget has been around $600 billion for some time – an amount that, even adjusted for inflation, is similar to spending at the height of the Cold War. President Trump, in his first address to Congress, wants a 10 percent increase in the budget, plus additional contingency funding of tens of billions of dollars. This would put defense and Pentagon spending close to $700 billion. The money would come from programs that protect our neediest citizens and protect the quality of the air, water, and soil. It’s not clear where the money would go, because the there has never been an audit of defense spending. Congress has called for a Defense Department audit numerous times; 2017 is supposed to be the year the Pentagon complies.

We know that billions of dollars simply disappeared during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There has been no accounting or accountability for defense spending. There is no sense of fiscal responsibility. Programs like the F-35 fighter jet, which is $150 billion over the initial budget and still has significant software problems, show a serious lack of oversight. According to The Washington Post, the Pentagon suppressed an internal report that identified $125 billion in military waste over five years.

I call on U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, and U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree and Bruce Poliquin to reject any increase in Pentagon spending until an audit of the Defense Department identifies where our tax dollars are going.

Jerry Provencher