[FoRK] so is it for real now?

J. Andrew Rogers andrew at ceruleansystems.com
Mon Oct 13 14:09:45 PDT 2008

On Oct 13, 2008, at 1:24 PM, geege schuman wrote:
> When McCain talks about cuts in military spending (and he has  
> referred to
> this in each debate) where are *his* specific cuts?

As best I can tell, he is talking about the procurement process, but I  
don't think that will produce significant savings if for no other  
reason than that this is a major mechanism for Congress to distribute  
pork.  Congress, and to a lesser extent, the Executive are responsible  
much of the excess procurement overhead because they reshuffle budgets  
and requirements every two years in an effort to redirect funding to  
their districts and pet projects.  As long as the government keeps  
cutting checks, contractors will do their best to accommodate whatever  
foolishness gets promoted from year to year. It is wasteful that the  
government behaves this way, but contractors get paid for doing what  
they are told, not for what is smart in some kind of broad policy sense.

And as a practical matter, even with all that pork the procurement  
process is still an economic net positive over the long-term. Even if  
Congress suddenly became fiscally prudent and reasonable with respect  
to long-term military spending, it would still realistically only  
shave maybe several tens of billions annually. RD&P simply are not  
that much of the budget. Overseas deployments are where most of the  
rest of any reasonable and significant defense cuts could occur -- it  
is not the CapEx but the OpEx that makes the military expensive.

So in a nutshell, I do not think McCain can significantly reduce  
procurement waste because the root cause is Congress, which benefits  
greatly from said waste.  It is wishful thinking on McCain's part, but  
it is a cheap political promise because he can later blame Congress  
for preventing meaningful reform.

BTW, one thing I have long given Rumsfeld credit for is forcibly  
killing some popular pork-saturated procurement programs that won him  
few friends in Congress.


J. Andrew Rogers

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