FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Senator McCain’s Pork Chops

by WINSLOW T. WHEELER

Yesterday, Friday, the Washington Post published a letter from the President of Citizens Against Government Waste in response to my commentary in last Sunday’s Outlook section.  Tom Schatz, the President of CAGW, focused on defending Senator John McCain against my descriptions and criticisms of his actions on defense bills.  I sent the Post a response to Mr. Schatz, but the Post has decided not to publish it.  Both letters are reproduced below.

Friday, August 27, 2004; Page A20
Washington Post

In the Aug. 22 Outlook piece, “Don’t Mind If I Do,” WINSLOW T. WHEELER leveled much-deserved criticism at Congress for larding the defense budget with self-serving, parochial projects. Citizens Against Government Waste’s annual “Congressional Pig Books” have shown how defense pork has risen 30.6 percent during the past three years, even as our elected leaders purportedly have marshaled all available resources to wage the war on terrorism.

However, Mr. Wheeler missed the mark when he accused Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) of giving a “wink and nod” to record pork in the 2005 defense appropriations bill.

Mr. McCain’s credentials as an anti-pork crusader are unassailable. He is the only senator who consistently takes to the floor to shame members of Congress for their budget-busting, special-interest spending. Mr. McCain’s decision to insert his criticism into the Congressional Record instead of speaking on the Senate floor hardly means that he is “going through the motions” or that his efforts are insincere.

Mr. McCain has repeatedly pushed for budget reform legislation that would reduce opportunities to get pet projects included in the annual spending bills.

Several times, he was rebuffed by Mr. Wheeler’s former boss, Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), when he sought help to make such remedies a reality. And no wonder. Mr. Wheeler regularly prepared a laundry list of pork requests at the behest of his boss for inclusion in defense appropriations, as he acknowledged in his essay, “Mr. Smith Is Dead,” published by the Center for Defense Information.

TOM SCHATZ
President
Citizens Against Government Waste
Washington

 

My response:
Dear Editor:

In large part, I agree with Tom Schatz, in his 26 Aug. letter regarding my commentary in Outlook, “Don’t Mind If I Do.” Both his organization, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), and Senator John McCain perform a valuable public service by reporting on Congress’ atrocious and corrosive pork system. Mr. Schatz was also right to point out that I was once a busy participant in that system. As I have already confessed and in much more detail in my forthcoming book, “The Wastrels of Defense,” I didn’t just push pork for the Senators who employed me, I did a lot to retard Congress’s porcine apparatus. However, I continue to be very disappointed in Senator McCain. As a U.S. Senator, he is in a position to do more than just report on pork like CAGW, yet for the most part he takes no meaningful action.

Senator McCain’s inaction constitutes an enabling of pork, not a crusade against it. As authorizations and appropriations for pork in Congress’s defense bills achieve new records in parallel with Senator McCain’s speeches, the nation’s defense weakens. Accurate reporting outside Congress helps, but just talk inside keeps the system going. In my book I’ve come up with a “12 Step” program to impede pork on Capitol Hill and to stop the other ways Congress sabotages US security. I would welcome working with Mr. Schatz and Senator McCain to give citizens the Congress they need and deserve in the area of national security.

Sincerely,

WINSLOW T. WHEELER
Visiting Senior Fellow
Center for Defense Information

Winslow Wheeler is a visiting senior fellow at the Center for Defense Information. He contributed an essay on the defense budget to CounterPunch’s new book: Dime’s Worth of Difference. Wheeler’s book, “The Wastrels of Defense: How Congress Sabotages U.S. Security,” will be available from the Naval Institute Press in October.

 

Winslow T. Wheeler is the Director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Project on Government Oversight.  He spent 31 years working for the Government Accountability Office and both Republican and Democratic Senators on national security issues.

February 08, 2016
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Privatization: the Atlanticist Tactic to Attack Russia
Mumia Abu-Jamal
Water War Against the Poor: Flint and the Crimes of Capital
John V. Walsh
Did Hillary’s Machine Rig Iowa? The Highly Improbable Iowa Coin Tosses
Eliza A. Webb
Hillary Clinton’s Populist Charade
Uri Avnery
Optimism of the Will
Roy Eidelson Trudy Bond, Stephen Soldz, Steven Reisner, Jean Maria Arrigo, Brad Olson, and Bryant Welch
Preserve Do-No-Harm for Military Psychologists: Coalition Responds to Department of Defense Letter to the APA
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, the UN and Meanings of Arbitrary Detention
Shamus Cooke
The Labor Movement’s Pearl Harbor Moment
W. T. Whitney
Cuba, War and Ana Belen Montes
Vincent Emanuele
The Curse and Failure of Identity Politics
Jim Goodman
Congress Must Kill the Trans Pacific Partnership
Peter White
Meeting John Ross
Colin Todhunter
Organic Agriculture, Capitalism and the Parallel World of the Pro-GMO Evangelist
Ralph Nader
They’re Just Not Answering!
Cesar Chelala
Beware of the Harm on Eyes Digital Devices Can Cause
Weekend Edition
February 5-7, 2016
Jeffrey St. Clair
When Chivalry Fails: St. Bernard and the Machine
Leonard Peltier
My 40 Years in Prison
John Pilger
Freeing Julian Assange: the Final Chapter
Garry Leech
Terrifying Ted and His Ultra-Conservative Vision for America
Andrew Levine
Smash Clintonism: Why Democrats, Not Republicans, are the Problem
William Blum
Is Bernie Sanders a “Socialist”?
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
We Can’t Afford These Billionaires
Enrique C. Ochoa
Super Bowl 50: American Inequality on Display
Jonathan Cook
The Liberal Hounding of Julian Assange: From Alex Gibney to The Guardian
George Wuerthner
How the Bundy Gang Won
Mike Whitney
Peace Talks “Paused” After Putin’s Triumph in Aleppo 
Ted Rall
Hillary Clinton: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Gary Leupp
Is a “Socialist” Really Unelectable? The Potential Significance of the Sanders Campaign
Vijay Prashad
The Fault Line of Race in America
Eoin Higgins
Please Clap: the Jeb Bush Campaign Pre-Mortem
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Invisible Epidemic: Radiation and Rising Rates of Thyroid Cancer
Andre Vltchek
Europe is Built on Corpses and Plunder
Jack Smith
Obama Readies to Fight in Libya, Again
Robert Fantina
As Goes Iowa, So Goes the Nation?
John Grant
Israel Moves to Check Its Artists
Dean Baker
Market Turmoil, the Fed and the Presidential Election
John Wight
Who Was Cecil Rhodes?
David Macaray
Will There Ever Be Anyone Better Than Bernie Sanders?
Christopher Brauchli
Suffer Little Children: From Brazil to Flint
JP Sottile
Did Fox News Help the GOP Establishment Get Its Groove Back?
Binoy Kampmark
Legalizing Cruelties: the Australian High Court and Indefinite Offshore Detention
John Feffer
Wrestling With Iran
Rob Prince – Ibrahim Kazerooni
Syria Again
Louisa Willcox
Park Service Finally Stands Up for Grizzlies and Us
Farzana Versey
Of Beyoncé, Trudeau and Culture Predators
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail