Pork, Corruption, Greed in Pentagon Contracts
On January 30th I had the opportunity to attend Carly Fiorina’s town hall event in Ames, Iowa at the Scheman building. I was asked by Kevin Rutledge, the Grassroots Education Coordinator with the Governing Under the Influence project, to ask Carly about the United States’ plan to spend a trillion dollars on a new generation of nuclear warheads, strategic bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). The concern with this new investment is it’s ramifications for life on Earth and potential for private contractors to benefit from it. I tied my question in with her campaign talking points of speaking out against crony capitalism and advocating for zero-based budgeting. My exchange with Carly is below.
Austin: “Hello, so you talked about crony capitalism and zero-based budgeting. So with that in mind, I’m curious what your thoughts are on plans to spend a trillion dollars on new nuclear arms development, considering that could potentially benefit private Pentagon contractors.”
Carly Fiorina: “So first, let me say one of the reasons that we have to go to zero-based budgeting is because we have to prioritize our spending. Now I think the original blueprint for our nation is called the Constitution, and in the Constitution there are enumerated powers, there are things that the federal government, only the federal government can do...and then there are a bunch of things they are not supposed to be doing. So for example they are not supposed to be controlling the educational system of this nation, they are not supposed to be in the student loan business, they’re not supposed to be in the healthcare business, they’re not supposed to be controlling 97% of the water in the state of Iowa, they’re doing a whole bunch of things that they aren’t supposed to be doing, but they’re not doing some of the things they’re supposed to be doing very well.
Yes, we have to invest in our military. I think it’s absolutely critical that we have the strongest military on the face of the planet and absolutely everybody has to know it. I actually think investing in the nuclear triad is very important, I know what it is, and I think it’s important that we invest in it. But you’re right sir, you’re right, there is a lot of fat and pork and corruption and greed in Pentagon contracts as well. In fact, having advised two Secretaries of Defense, I know that in the Defense Department there’s something called the 'tooth-to-tail' ratio. Tooth-fighting men and women, tip of the spear, weapons, material. Tail-bureaucracy, pork. You see we need to invest in the tooth, whatever is necessary to have the strongest military on the face of the planet. We have to invest in tooth, and that means also caring for those who have already served, and we need to reform tail. And the only way we can get any of this done is to get control of the money, which is why zero-based budgeting is so important.”
She did not get into the specifics of how she would reform “tail” unfortunately, a talking point she has used in the past, and was supportive of investment in the nuclear triad. It would be interesting to hear her specifics on how she would reform “tail.” So if she continues her campaign after the Iowa Caucuses, I hope it is a question she gets asked so she can address the specifics of her plan.