Weekly Wastebasket

Military Spending: Everything and the Kitchen Sink

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September 04, 1999

Regular readers of the Waste Basket are given many examples of wasteful spending within the U.S. Department of Defense. Taxpayers for Common Sense often highlights expenditures in hundreds of millions or billions of taxpayer dollars.

Regardless of the amount, though, it seems that there is a culture of waste in almost every corner of the Pentagon. In keeping with military tradition, it appears the department may be following its leader. Consider this news:

The July/August issue of Capital Style magazine, a journal that looks at politics and government in the nation's capital, reported that Secretary of Defense William Cohen exceeded both time and money allotments while redecorating his Pentagon office.

The original budget allowed for a $30,000 refurbishing. The final price tag exceeded that by $22,000. These expenses included $15,000 for antique restoration, $14,000 for new carpeting and $2,300 for a Murphy bed.

TCS sees no reason for the Secretary of Defense to work in squalid conditions, but given the stated 'new priorities' of Secretary Cohen's tenure it is disheartening to see a renewed apathy towards budgets and the use of the nation's tax dollars.

Over time, over budget, who cares? This lack of leadership and sound judgement may well explain the systemic flaws of the Pentagon's budgeting process and certainly encourages TCS to continue its work for national defense reforms; from the top to the bottom.

TCS on TV; Oil Royalty Showdown Approaches

Last week, Washington Direct, a nationally syndicated television news broadcast, brought more attention to the TCS campaign for market-value oil royalty payments from the world's largest petroleum companies. In an interview, TCS Legislative Director Jill Lancelot explained that the U.S. Senate will soon vote on this issue.

When the Senate returns from recess in September, Senator Barbara Boxer of California is expected to offer an amendment to strike legislative language prohibiting the Department of Interior from enforcing stronger rules to get taxpayers the royalties they are due.

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