Target Earmarks, Not Entitlements
I read the article “GOP Appears Poised to Take on Entitlements.” Clearly, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are all in GOP sights. Congress should review the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO). Ever heard of it? Neither had I!
In 2006, the Pentagon created JIEDDO to research ways to reduce or eliminate roadside bombs in Iraq. The agency now has 1,900 employees and has spent nearly $17 billion. But it has failed to develop the ability to detect roadside bombs. The best detectors remain trained dogs, local handlers and soldiers themselves. Roadside bombs continue to be the single worst killer of soldiers. They killed 368 in Afghanistan last year, the highest annual total since 2001.
In addition, JIEDDO failed to collect data on its projects; spending went to programs not involved with its core mission; agency officials misreported $795 million in costs; there are six contractors for every government employee.
With this fiasco, why target entitlements? Why not earmarks? Or foreign aid? (See Earle Hightower’s letter, March 30.)
First-term Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) called for radical changes: Abolish the IRS and income tax; retain tax cuts for billionaires so they won’t shut down their charities; stop extending unemployment benefits, which discourage people from seeking new jobs. I agree that unemployment benefits have run on too long, but West’s desire to slash spending doesn’t include his district: He secured a $21 million grant for a new runway at the Fort Lauderdale airport. “Grant money is not pork,” West said. The government must first look at the billions of dollars wasted on JIEDDO and in foreign countries. Trillions of dollars have been appropriated and spent in Iraq to find nonexistent WMD’s and “rebuild” that country, and earmarks continue apparently unabated.
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