Our Opinion: Deficit hawks should start with Pentagon

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Along with the tragic waste of life in Iraq and Afghanistan there is the shameful waste of taxpayer dollars. A new example serves as microcosm of both the Pentagon process and mentality.

John Sopko, the special investigator for Afghanistan Reconstruction, reports that the Pentagon spent $43 million to build a gas station in that hapless country, a station that would have cost $500,000 to build in neighboring Pakistan. According to The Washington Post, Mr. Sopko, who has uncovered other boondoggles, said the station was supposed to make use of compressed natural gas to curb the nation's use of foreign oil. However, Afghanistan doesn't have sufficient natural gas transmission infrastructure or enough cars that use natural gas to create a "viable market."

The Pentagon can't or won't explain the rationale behind this expensive farce because the department in charge of it, the Task Force for Stability and Business Operations, has closed. As Mr. Sopko notes, this is no excuse because the $800 million task force program reported directly to the Pentagon and closed only six months ago, after the ill-considered gas station project was well underway.

Regardless of which party is in control of the White House or Congress, the Pentagon gets budget hikes while domestic spending is cut and throws money away with no accountability, wrapping itself in the flag whenever it is criticized. Mr. Spoko's report reminds us that when deficit hawks start squawking they should look first not at Medicare, SNAP benefits or other worthwhile programs that help the elderly or poor but at indefensible Pentagon bloat and waste.


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