Citizens Against Government Waste: Defense Budget Should Be Cut

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Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today expressed its support for congressional Republicans’ statements that military spending cuts should be part of any serious plan to reduce the deficit and restore fiscal solvency while avoiding tax hikes.

On June 26, 2011, the Washington Post reported, “House Republican leaders said they have found a surprising willingness to consider defense cuts that would have been unthinkable five years ago, when they last controlled the House.”


House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told the Post, “When we say everything is on the table, that’s what we mean.”  CAGW has long been a proponent of cutting wasteful spending at the Department of Defense (DOD), dating back to the group’s exposure of the Pentagon’s $436 hammer and $640 toilet seat.

“On November 20, 2010, CAGW and 26 other conservative groups signed a letter urging the House and Senate Republican leadership to stop ignoring defense waste,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz.  “Taxpayers should be heartened that Republicans in Congress may finally have taken th
ese concerns to heart and are willing to trim the DOD’s undeniably bloated budget, which can be done without jeopardizing national security.”

As an aid to members of Congress, CAGW has created a list of spending cuts that should be enacted immediately:

·         Eliminate all earmarks in the FY 2012 Defense Appropriations Act.  CAGW identified 72 programs at a cost to taxpayers of $3.9 billion in the House version of the bill that meet CAGW’s long-established earmark criteria.

·         Eliminate the language in the FY 2012 Defense Authorization bill that keeps the door open for taxpayer support of General Electric’s Joint Strike Fighter alternate engine program.  As CAGW has pointed out previously, President Obama has threatened to veto the entire bill if the alternate engine program is not eliminated.

·         Eliminate the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS), which would save taxpayers $547 million.  MEADS is a collaborative transatlantic missile defense project that been plagued with total program cost overruns of $2 billion and is ten years behind schedule.

·         Enact each of CAGW’s 77 defense-related recommendations in its Prime Cuts 2011 database, which would save taxpayers $25 billion in one year and $197 billion over five years.

Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, mismanagement and abuse in government.





  1. The Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) has expressed appropriate concern for costly defense spending. But in pointing to the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS), they should look deeper, because there’s much more to the story.

    CAGW states that by eliminating the MEADS air and missile defense system taxpayers would save $547 million. But that’s little compared to what it would cost to keep the 40-year-old Patriot system operational. In fact, the U.S. has spent more than $3 billion in Raytheon-announced contracts in the past six years to support, repair and upgrade U.S. Patriot systems. That’s twice what the U.S. has spent on MEADS development in total! In February, the Department of Defense publicly acknowledged that Patriot would need even further significant investment in both sustainment and modernization over the next two decades. But the astronomical costs that will be needed to maintain and deploy Patriot aren’t the only consideration.

    Under Secretary of Defense Dr. Ashton Carter recently wrote the Senate Armed Services Committee that our binding international commitment to Italy and Germany obligates the U.S. to termination costs that are as much as continuing to fund the program. MEADS is a financial win for the U.S., considering the fact that Italy and Germany have already contributed $1.6 billion to the program. The U.S. only funds 58% of the MEADS program. If you bought a brand new car for 58% of the total purchase price, you would consider that the deal of a lifetime, especially if you were driving a 40-year-old model.

    But perhaps the best reason for keeping MEADS is performance. A Raytheon executive recently admitted that it would require two Patriot batteries to protect about 66% of what a single MEADS battery could protect, at significantly lower operating and maintenance costs I might add. The U.S. still has a stated requirement for a modern, highly mobile 21st century air and missile defense system that will protect our soldiers long into the future, and Patriot is not the answer. The right answer is to ask the Government Accountability Office to assess what it will cost to upgrade, maintain and deploy Patriot vs. procure MEADS to ensure the U.S. chooses the best and most cost-effective solution. Certainly, a respected taxpayer group would want to understand all the facts associated with the tradeoff before making the decision.

    WC Wiese on behalf of David F. Berganini, Jr.
    MEADS International

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