Republican candidates for president have all sang out in less-than-beautiful harmony about cutting taxes for the very rich and miraculously balancing the budget at the same time. They have also sworn they will increase military spending. Many of them are urging a full-scale war on ISIS and Donald Trump is even ready to commit war crimes in order to defeat them. Carly Fiorina has been banging the drum as hard or harder than most. “We need the strongest military on the face of the planet, and everyone has to know it,” she said at the Republican presidential debate in September: “More ships, more brigades, more nukes, more battalions.” Not a peep about how much her proposals would cost ($500 billion or so). Cuts in the safety net and closing loopholes will, they claim, make up for the gaping budget hole their bellicose plans would create.
The proposed recipient of all that GOP chickenhawk largesse, the Defense Department, is already busy spending billions and billions on projects that even some Republicans think are the equivalent of flushing cash down a gold-plated toilet (the 2014 Defense budget, including money for the various wars we are waging in the Middle East and Asia, was more than half a trillion dollars). And what do we get for all that dough? In part, ongoing military projects that have long been designated as pipe dreams, yet continue to suck money down a black hole. These projects have been referred to as “zombie” defense projects because of their refusal to die. Meanwhile, a fraction of that money would undoubtedly save and improve the lives of many Americans.