“Anyone who says we can’t cut money at the Pentagon doesn’t understand what’s going on with contracting at the Pentagon.”
—Sen. Claire McCaskill
t’s not exactly a sexy subject, like the ongoing and unseemly fiscal cliff fight, but it is the kind of stuff that politicians are supposed to be doing, instead of creating artificial austerity crises:
WASHINGTON — The Senate passed a sweeping overhaul on Tuesday of the U.S. government’s wartime contracting procedures, the largest such reform in decades. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s (D-Mo.) amendment, included in the national defense bill, is aimed at improving oversight and cracking down on the rampant waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars in contracting practices.
Before Missourians sent her to Washington, legislatively sexy Claire McCaskill was our state auditor, and her concern for the government’s fiscal accountability and integrity inherent in that job has now borne some national fruit, that is if House Republicans, responding to contractor’s demands, don’t lop it off in the conference committee.
Five years ago she helped (along with Democratic Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia) pass legislation that created a commission to study waste and fraud involved in wartime contracting, and after years of investigation the commission found, according to McCaskill’s press release, that,
the U.S. had squandered up to $60 billion through waste and fraud on contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The panel identified major failures in contingency contract planning, execution and oversight within the government. It concluded that such waste will increase if accountability across government is not improved as U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down.
Think about that: $60 billion down the drain, or, better put: in somebody’s pocket who didn’t deserve it. That $60 billion could more than pay for the federal government’s emergency aid to areas hit by Superstorm Sandy (Obama is planning on requesting $50 billion or so from Congress).
And while we, day after day, witness what is going on in Washington over whether to fiscal-cliff ourselves into another recession, we can for a moment admire McCaskill’s political pugnacity on this issue:
While these wars wind down, we can’t lose the urgency to correct these mistakes and prevent them from being repeated in the future,” said McCaskill in a statement. “Protecting taxpayer dollars isn’t the flashiest issue. But it’s a promise I made to Missourians, and it’s something I pledge to continue fighting for, with dogged determination, until this legislation is signed into law.”
That, my friends, should be why we send people to Washington. Not to hold the economy hostage so rich people can save a few more dollars in taxes.