I love the American military. Our armed forces are the best in the world, and our all-volunteer force is an incredible example of the power of freedom. While I have been a lifelong crusader against our nation’s unsustainable spending and debt, I have always been reluctant to support any cuts to defense spending. Defending the nation is one of the few clearly enumerated powers of the federal government in the Constitution. As such, I support fully funding our military before nearly anything else in the federal budget. I have come to realize, however, that there is enough waste, fraud, and abuse within the broader Pentagon budget to provide for spending cuts without cutting core weapons or troop support programs.
Take, for example, the litany of irresponsible spending uncovered by the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR). SIGAR has uncovered tens of millions in spending on reconstruction projects in Afghanistan that are in no way related to defending our country. Perhaps the most egregious example is the Defense Department, during the Obama Administration, spending $43 million on a natural gas station outside Kabul, Afghanistan. This boondoggle is exhibit A when it comes to wasteful Washington spending.
The $43 million natural gas station was supposed to cost “only” $3 million, but cost overruns and “overhead” spending drove the final tally to $43 million USD. But it gets worse. Most Afghans, like most Americans, do not drive natural gas powered vehicles. Thus, in order to incentivize Afghans to use the station, American tax money was allocated to buy Afghan families natural gas powered vehicles, and then to prepay debit cards for natural gas purchases at the station to fuel the vehicles. Thus, in an effort to stimulate the Afghan economy, American families had to foot the bill for a massively over budget fueling station, natural gas cars, and gift cards for Afghanistan.
This is the kind of wasteful spending that makes the blood boil.
Congress must fully audit the Defense Department, along with every other agency of government to route-out this sort of abusive spending. I support fully funding the military, providing them with the best weaponry available, the best hardware possible, and great pay for our men and women in uniform. I do not, however, believe that $43 million gas stations in Afghanistan should be paid for by hard working families in America.
As a conservative, I have come to believe that we can be strongly pro-military, while still supporting cuts to wasteful spending at the Pentagon. The money used to Nation build in Afghanistan could have been better used to Nation build here at home, and American taxpayers would be the better off for it.