Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – What do we need tanks for? I know what we need them for, but what do we need more for? So it’s a jobs program. The military thus, and the reason why the defense budget is defended so vociferously by Republicans is not for national defense; it is for corporate defense. It is to make sure that the leviathan continues to shower favored corporations that lobby for the money tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars per year. That’s what it’s for. Check out today’s audio and transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: Here’s another great story here. I find this one a cherry on top of a substantial chocolate fudge sundae that I have been whipping up behind the old ice cream counter here the last five years of this program. I have been telling you that it is fake conservatives -- GOP members that call themselves conservatives and aren’t very conservative -- that have been instigating and promoting and defending what is basically a stimulus package that dwarfs Obama, Pelosi and Reed’s much ridiculed stimulus package from 2009. Remember, the Obama stimulus was a measly $840 billion, I think. Over the course of the last 40 years, the GOP has been defending and promoting a yearly stimulus that comes in the form of a couple hundred billion dollars known as the military-industrial complex. We have a prime example of this here. Yahoo news has the story, “Army says no to more tanks, but Congress insists.” [mocking] “No, you have to take them! We don’t care if you want them or need them, we gotta build them. We gotta keep people working at General Dynamics.” It is corporatism here, folks, corporatism on display.
Lawmakers from both parties have devoted nearly half a billion dollars in taxpayer money over the past two years to build improved versions of the 70-ton Abrams.
But senior Army officials have said repeatedly, "No thanks."
It's the inverse of the federal budget world these days, in which automatic spending cuts are leaving sought-after pet programs struggling or unpaid altogether.
Yet in the case of the Abrams tank, there's a bipartisan push to spend an extra $436 million [Mike: That’s a drop in the bucket for the Feds, though, isn’t it, folks?] on a weapon the experts explicitly say is not needed.
Why are the tank dollars still flowing?
Mike: The answer is corporatism. These are libs who write for Yahoo News and they’re even repulsed by this.
Keeping the Abrams production line rolling protects businesses and good paying jobs in congressional districts where the tank's many suppliers are located.
Mike: Folks, I’m going to go over this again. Unless you are in an emergency, in an actual state of declared war and you have to have the armaments of war in order to fight a war, then taxing people or borrowing money so you can tax them in the future to spend on military hardware is bleating plowshares into swords. It is not productive. You are still confiscating money from the productive sector that would not be spent in the manner in which it is spent. In other words, this is nothing short of a porkulus, succubus, stimulus program, except instead of making green jobs or stupid green cars or whatever, we’re making olive green tanks.
If there's a home of the Abrams, it's politically important Ohio. The nation's only tank plant is in Lima. So it's no coincidence that the champions for more tanks are Rep. Jim Jordan and Sen. Rob Portman, two of Capitol's Hill most prominent deficit hawks, as well as Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. They said their support is rooted in protecting national security, not in pork-barrel politics.
"The one area where we are supposed to spend taxpayer money is in defense of the country," [Mike: I love this excuse.] said Jordan, whose district in the northwest part of the state includes the tank plant.
The Abrams dilemma underscores the challenge that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel faces as he seeks to purge programs that the military considers unnecessary or too expensive in order to ensure there's enough money for essential operations, training and equipment.
Mike: The only essential operations we need, ladies and gentlemen, from today moving forward, is to recall all of our troops from the European theater, recall all of our troops from the Pacific theater, shut those bases down and give them back to the French, the Italians, the Germans, the Japanese, and the Koreans, and bring them home. The only thing that we need to continue funding is a Navy. We need a Navy on the high seas for obvious reasons, and a small force here at home. If we have to go to war, we un-mothball that which has been mothballed and then you call up a standing army. This is the way it’s supposed to work. No, we have to have the Army out there. We have to be out there invading and involved in other countries’ troubles and affairs, that way we can justify the military spending, just as Dwight David Eisenhower warned us about. Where do you think military-industrial complex comes from? Eisenhower’s farewell address. I don’t know if he coined it or if he was quoting someone, but that is certainly the most famous utterance of it.
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Federal budgets are always peppered with money for pet projects.
Sean Kennedy, director of research for the nonpartisan Citizens Against Government Waste, said Congress should listen when one of the military services says no to more equipment.
"When an institution as risk averse as the Defense Department says they have enough tanks, we can probably believe them," Kennedy said.
Congressional backers of the Abrams upgrades view the vast network of companies, many of them small businesses, that manufacture the tanks' materials and parts as a critical asset that has to be preserved. [Mike: In other words, we have to have an industrial policy that builds military hardware so that we can have an industrial policy. This is central economic planning at its finest.]
The Lima plant is a study in how federal dollars affect local communities, which in turn hold tight to the federal dollars. The facility is owned by the federal government but operated by the land systems division of General Dynamics, a major defense contractor that spent close to $11 million last year on lobbying.
The plant is Lima's fifth-largest employer with close to 700 employees, down from about 1,100 just a few years ago, according to Mayor David Berger. But the facility is still crucial to the local economy.
Jordan, a House conservative leader who has pushed for deep reductions in federal spending, supported the automatic cuts known as the sequester that require $42 billion to be shaved from the Pentagon's budget by the end of September. The military also has to absorb a $487 billion reduction in defense spending over the next 10 years, as required by the Budget Control Act passed in 2011.
Still, said Jordan, it would be a big mistake to stop producing tanks.
"Look, (the plant) is in the 4th Congressional District and my job is to represent the 4th Congressional District, so I understand that," he said. "But the fact remains, if it was not in the best interests of the national defense for the United States of America, then you would not see me supporting it like we do."
Mike: What do we need tanks for? I know what we need them for, but what do we need more for? So it’s a jobs program. The military thus, and the reason why the defense budget is defended so vociferously by Republicans is not for national defense; it is for corporate defense. It is to make sure that the leviathan continues to shower favored corporations that lobby for the money tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars per year. That’s what it’s for. Who are they then to demonize the libs when libs want a stimulus program that showers all kind of money on solar panel makers and green car companies? The fact of the matter is, neither one of the activities ought to happen. If we’re in a war, then you sell the bonds like we used to do and you pay for the war, simple as that. When the war is over, stop building the hardware. Good grief! Eric is in North Carolina. Hello, Eric, how you doing?
Caller Eric: Hi, Mike. First of all, I want to say I’m a 24-year veteran of the U.S. military. I want to say that this administration, in my opinion, has just declared, after the Boston bombing, that the terrorists won. The federal and state and local reaction to that bombing was way over the top. We violated a lot of people’s civil rights and Fourth Amendment rights, including forcing people out of their houses at gunpoint. To me, we’re worse than the terrorists in this case. We have no right to do what we did. Even if we caught people, which we did, we violated so many rights. Was it really worth it? That’s what I’m saying. I don’t agree with you on everything, especially in the military stuff, but this one I agree with you 100 percent.
Mike: Well, no one is going to agree with someone 100 percent, unless it’s God and you agree with him. That’ll probably be the only 100 percent agreement that you’ll ever get. I would say to you that it is specifically and precisely the size and scope of our vaunted defense force that makes possible the police state sweep that we saw, and that you’re decrying now, in Boston. I’d say you’re being a bit dubious here. You can’t say that you disagree with me on the size of the military and then say that you fear the military and the police state when it’s called out. What makes that possible? It’s the size of the thing, isn’t it?
Caller Eric: Mike, I gotta say one thing. First of all, the military is not allowed to do civil police work. There’s Posse Comitatus.
Mike: Yes, I’m familiar with it.
Caller Eric: That’s correct. You’re comparing apples and oranges. The police force in this country, especially the Homeland Security police force, have gotten to the point where they have so much weaponry -- some of it is from using defense funds -- but we’re not comparing our military to our police force. I think George Bush made a mistake with the TSA, which I think is an incredible waste of our taxpayer money. The TSA has gone well over any usefulness in what they do. The terrorists have means to get around any TSA checkpoint. To make us feel good, they’re spending these billions of dollars that we don’t have. It’s absolutely ridiculous.
America needs to wake up and quit being such babies about the terrorists out there. We need to stand up to them. All we’re doing is cowering to them. Two teenagers practically caused a major city in our country to stop. Is that something we need to be proud of? If I was a policeman, I wouldn’t be proud for what happened. All that happened was they had a couple civilians that helped them out after they put a picture that they could have put out much earlier. Our politicians are all patting themselves on their backs and our police are all patting themselves on their backs for what they did. I don’t think they did worth a darn. They didn’t help out anything. All they did was they caught the guy after somebody pointed him out. Barney Fife could have done that.
Mike: [mocking Fife] “Andy, I think he’s under the tarp in the boat, Andy.” It would have been the ghost of Mr. Chicken, Don Knotts, chasing the perp through the neighborhood in Boston. Thanks for the call. Steve is in Texas. You’re next on The Mike Church Show. How you doing?
Caller Steve: Hey, Mike, how you doing? I’m fishing down here in Texas. I’m an officer in the Army. I’m actually from Boston. I just wanted to talk about the military spending because I’m a logistics officer. The big problem here isn’t the production so much as the upkeep. I will tell you, as a man who looks at these numbers every day, you’d be surprised at how many hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars they throw away in these vehicles that don’t even work half the time. You take them out in the field and they break. There’s a huge hold in the spending because we can’t get the right equipment that works, that’s relevant to what we need right now.
Mike: Give me an example of something that breaks out in the field or ceases to function properly.
Caller Steve: You talk about these Abrams tanks. We have a tank that’s kind of like an Abrams tank except it has, imagine it has a huge bridge on top of it. They’re called Wolverines. These suckers cost millions to fix. Every time you take them in the field, you’ll take 20 in the field and only four will drive back. That’s how often they break. You’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars repairing these pieces of junk. The next war, we’re not even going to take them to. We just keep fixing them and fixing them. I’m going to Afghanistan soon and we’re not taking them. Why the hell would we take them over there? We don’t need them. They’re just a waste of money and piles of scrap and they just sit there. It’s ridiculous.
Mike Church Show Audio: Decepticons Beware: Hagel Hints At Cutting One Trillion Dollars In Defense Spending
Mike: What about the Abrams that we’re talking about here today. Would you take those?
Caller Steve: Not for this war, no. I understand the necessity of it. We’re paying all this money for readiness. As far as readiness goes right now, we’re not ready. We’re not doing the right things we need to do. We don’t have the right equipment. We finally, after ten years, are getting the right equipment. They need to figure it out because frankly it’s disgusting how much money they blow on useless equipment.
Mike: I wouldn’t say that it’s useless. It is what is known in central economic planning circles as make-work. For example, you build a bridge over a certain small body of water and you have the federal government or state government build the bridge. You build it knowing that that bridge has to be painting, for example every two years to stop it from rusting or something on that order. Not only are you paying for the initial investment in the bridge, you also have to then pay for -- you have to tax people to do this -- the upkeep of the bridge. The question would then remain: If the government didn’t step in and build the bridge and then pledge to tax me till the day I die to pay for its maintenance, would the bridge be built? Would the market demand that there be a bridge built at that place over that body of water? You can’t answer this in the negative because it has already occurred. That should be the operative question and this is how you should think about these things. Unfortunately, that’s not how it’s thought about. All that has to happen is for some politician to be influenced by someone that wants to use government force to do something that is going to benefit his business or her business. You get the benefit of using the product in this example, the road to get to the big box or whatever the store is, then the taxpayer ultimately pays not only for the road but has to pay for the upkeep of it. The big business person, even though he is a taxpayer at some level, has now not had to invest anything in what is a necessary component of his business practice, has he?
Caller Steve: Negative.
Mike: That’s right, a big negative. Steve, thanks very much for the call. Folks, this is just basic Economics 101 here. Our economic literacy and financial literacy, we won’t even ask questions like the one I just asked. How many times have you driven past a place and gone: Oh, look, they’re putting in a new road there. Okay, who’s they? Who the hell are you talking about? Who is the they that makes up the pronoun they’re? Who’s the they? Do you know? Do you care? When you see those giant yellow trucks out there and men standing around in reflective vests, do you know who it is that’s paying for their employ? Do you know what it is they’re doing? How did they get ahold of the land? Did they take it through eminent domain? Did they buy it? We are surrounded by a very proactive active government everywhere we go. Where there’s mechanized transportation, you can see it, yet how many people view that as government? It is and it’s expensive, too.
End Mike Church Show Transcript