Apr 24, 2007

Boondoggle Maybe?

President Bush, with his little war in Iraq, has outspent President Lyndon Johnson with his big war in Vietnam during comparative five-year periods, according to the Pentagon's own recently released figures.

The Pentagon's chief bean counter, the comptroller, sets forth figures documenting this in his "National Defense Estimates for FY 2008." The impartial numbers show that Johnson spent $2.1 trillion in fiscal 2008 dollars on the American military from fiscal 1964 through fiscal 1968 when both the Vietnam and Cold wars were raging. He put more than 500,000 troops on the ground in Vietnam from an active duty force of 3.5 million men and women, many of them low-cost draftees.

Bush spent $2.5 trillion in the same fiscal 2008 dollars on military activities from fiscal 2003 through fiscal 2007, even though his expeditionary force in Iraq was only about one-fourth as big as Johnson's -- some 140,000 troopers -- and the Cold War was long gone.

Also, Bush was paying a much smaller active duty force, numbering about 1.4 million in fiscal 2007, during that five-year period.

The stories behind those figures, which the comptroller did not go into in his 217-page report, are that the price of paying, equipping and caring for soldiers has gone way up since the days of Johnson's draftee military; that neither Congress nor Bush has had the will to cancel super weapons, including several designed for a Cold War that no longer exists, and that American taxpayers who just sent in their income tax checks are paying more and getting less for their money because of the Pentagon's failure to hold down the costs of new weapons.

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