DEFENDING AMERICA
David H. Hackworth
August 1, 1995

IN BOTH HOUSES IT'S BUSINESS AS USUAL

Newt Gingrich and his gang's pact with you and me has become a cruel joke. The Contract with America says, 'In two years, the public will have a record to look at, and they will know whether Republicans really were different when they took control of the people's House for the first time in 40 years, or if they slipped easily into business as usual.'

It took only a few months before Newt's porkers out-porked the Democrats, no slouches themselves when it comes to filling up their own troughs. The Republicans have moved in with gusto, and they're now gleefully puffing up the Pentagon budget as if the Cold War never ended, all the while chanting "the bogeymen are coming' to justify their no-war military buildup.

They're such hypocrites! In June, Rep. Joel Hefley, R-Colo., said, "I hope we get away from spending defense dollars just to make (ourselves) look good at home." Hefley, nearly half of the House Republicans and three-fourths of the Democrats just added $500 million worth of military construction projects to the budget that weren't even asked for by the Pentagon.

These wasted defense dollars won't sharpen our warriors' fighting skills, but they'll buy a lot of votes with the bogus defense jobs they'll create.

While the House is porking up unrequested military construction projects, many fighting units' readiness is not up to scratch. And the House has delayed a much needed pay raise for our troops, even though thousands of military families live below the poverty level, barely making it on food stamps.

David Evans, a director at the Washington-based Business Executives for National Security, a nonpartisan group of business leaders, authored a stinging report on our trusted reps' abuses.

In a letter to the chief House Porker, Floyd Spence, R-S.C., BENS asks, 'If, in (your) wisdom, the national defense is so inadequate as to need $10.5 billion additional next year, are ... day-care centers, gymnasiums, dining halls and the like an answer to a problem of this magnitude?"

A PARTIAL LIST OF THE HOUSE'S $500 MILLION PORK-ARAMA:

· $27 million for bachelor quarters at an air station in Beauford, S.C., which the Marines are the first to admit is not vital to their operational needs. The construction was scheduled for 1998. Spence sped it up; pork means home district votes.

· $6 million to upgrade a foundry at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard that is being closed. This facility has such a low priority that the Navy had it on the back burner until the year 2000.

· $32 million for nine child-care centers for Spence's National Security Committee. Eight of these are in states represented by committee porkers.

· $10 million for a second gymnasium at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Wash., that will sport badminton, squash, aerobics and paddle ball courts.

· $78 million for National Guard projects such as paint shops, physical fitness facilities and firing ranges. Of these 20 projects, 17 are in states represented by Spence's committee members. Meanwhile, the Guard is going through the biggest drawdown in its history and needs the $ 78 million like I need a new set of dog tags.

· Millions of defense dollars are also slated to renovate an Air Force band recording studio, repair a clubhouse air-conditioning system and landscape officers' quarters at two air bases. Meanwhile, our grunts still tote the same worn-out machine gun their dads packed in Vietnam.

Don't expect the Senate to kill this House "money-is-policy" rip-off. This month, the Senate Appropriations Committee added $461 million in unrequested military construction pork. Like the crooks in the House, these additions are mostly for the Senate committee members' home states.

We've sent the wrong people to Congress, and until we get rid of the professional politicians who use pork to hang on to their power base, we're never going to get America off its knees.

A solution: Only send people to Washington who don't want to be there, folks not into power or politics but into Lincoln's "of the people, by the people and for the people" form of government. They'll make the tough decisions, not worry about reelection, mop up the slime and return home just as quickly -- and as clean -- as they came.