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Category: Defense



  • MEADS - The Missile to Nowhere

    David Williams on November 17, 2011

    Today, November 17, 2011, the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) will be tested.  Now, before you get too excited, this test will be nothing more than a dog and pony show to keep its funding alive and try to silence the critics.  As one of the harshest critics of the program (see previous blog posts here and here), the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) sent a series of e-mails mails to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medium Extended Air Defense System Management Agency (NAMEADSMA), the Army, and MEADS International on November 8, 2011.  The only response was from NAMEADSMA.  While we appreciated the response, the answers were less than satisfactory and raised even more questions.

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  • TPA Investigates: Missile Program Needs More Scrutiny and Less Money

    David Williams on November 11, 2011

    The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) has been a hot topic of conversation at the Pentagon and Capitol Hill.  MEADS, which was originally conceived as the replacement to the Patriot missile system, is being jointly built by the United States, Italy, and Germany with the Americans shouldering more than 50 percent of the cost.  Even though the Army doesn’t want the project, there was an additional $800 million allocated for the project through 2013.  Taxpayer groups have expressed their opposition to funding the program over the past years.  On October 3, 2011, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) held a briefing where MEADS was discussed as a primary program to be cut as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (aka the Super Committee) looks for cuts.  Now, it appears that there will be “test” of MEADS on November 17, a day before the federal government runs out of money and less than a week before the Super Committee presents its deficit reduction plan.  TPA is concerned that this test (which is really more of a demonstration than a test) is nothing more than a dog and pony show to boost the funding of the program and keep it off the chopping block. » Read More
  • Pentagon Launch Program Needs More Scrutiny, Less Money

    David Williams on October 19, 2011

    The Government Accountability Office (GAO) just released a report on the Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program that is problematic for taxpayers and space launches.  According to a fact sheet by Vandenberg Air Force Base, “EELV is designed to improve our nation's access to space by making space launch vehicles more affordable and reliable.”  Not so fast.  The EELV program budgets have quadrupled since the Pentagon allowed Boeing and Lockheed to merge their launch business into a single monopoly provider, the United Launch Alliance, in 2006.   And now ULA  is pushing the Pentagon to write the company a $15 billion check for a five-year, sole source deal that will, according to GAO, commit DOD to more rockets than it needs at a higher price than it needs to pay.

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  • Deadline Looms for Super Committee

    David Williams on October 13, 2011

    As part of the August 2, 2011 deal to raise the debt ceiling, the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction (aka the “Super Committee”) was created to come up with an additional $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction.  This is in addition to an initial $1 trillion in spending cuts that was instituted immediately after the deal was signed.  Many believed that mid-November was the deadline to contact the Super Committee about specific ideas.  It now appears that taxpayers have once again been misled.  Multiple news reports indicate that October 14, 2011 is the real deadline to make formal recommendations to the Super Committee.  Many groups have been offering advice on where to cut spending.  In fact, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) held a Defense briefing on October 3 with representatives from the Lexington Institute, National Taxpayers Union, and Americans for Tax Reform to discuss potential spending cuts in the Department of Defense that wouldn’t affect national security.  The panelists recommended eliminating funding the Joint Strike Fighter alternate engine and the Medium Extended Air Defense System (read previous blog postings here and here).  TPA has also recommended eliminating Community Transformation Grants funded through the Centers for Disease Control (read previous blog posting here).  Even with all these superb ideas coming out of TPA, and other groups, Congress doesn’t have to look much further than the Congressional Budget Office, President Obama and the National Commission on Fiscal Reform and Integrity for ideas.

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  • Senate Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2012 Contains Earmarks and Continued Funding for an Unnecessary and Expensive Program

    David Williams on September 27, 2011

    As the first group to uncover NASA earmarks in the 2011 Continuing Resolution for fiscal year (FY) 2011 and earmarks in the FY 2012 House Defense Appropriations Bill, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has found more earmarks, this time in the FY 2012 Senate Defense Appropriations Bill.  TPA has preliminarily found 62 earmarks worth $2.8 billion.  In addition, the Senate also funded the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS).  In addition to the other problems with MEADS (click here and here), according to language in the Senate bill,  “The Committee is concerned with the historical management of the MEADS program and that it has taken the Department 3 years, following the 2008 program Preliminary Design Review, to conclude that with a production delay of at least 4 years and a U.S. investment of $1,160,000,000 required in addition to the $804,000,000 budgeted in fiscal years 2012 and 2013, the program was simply unaffordable. As such, the Committee echoes the concerns voiced in section 807 of S. 1253, the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2012, as reported.” The Senate Defense Appropriations Bill is funding unrequested earmarks and a project (MEADS) that the committee is concerned about.  Not a smart way to fund the Department of Defense.

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  • Pentagon Can Protect $150 Million With New Defense Contract

    David Williams on September 2, 2011

    The Department of Defense will surely have many decisions ahead of them as they are faced with the likely reality that defense programs may be subject to significant cuts from the newly-formed super committee.  Recognizing the need for light air support, the Department is expected to soon announce its decision on an aircraft to meet its light air support needs. This procurement decision is a case study in what the Department of Defense should do to protect taxpayer dollars.  Two competitors have bid on the plane - Embraer, based in Brazil, and Hawker Beechcraft, based in Kansas.  Embraer, is a Brazilian company with a strong history of opposing international security efforts by the United States.  If Embraer is selected, there is a strong likelihood that taxpayer dollars will be put at risk.  Normally the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) would not take up the issue of a defense procurement project based upon the country in which an aircraft is being built, but considering the unique nature of the arrangement Embraer has with the Brazilian government, a much closer look is warranted. On September 2, 2011 TPA sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta about this project.

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  • The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

    David Williams on August 1, 2011

    Congress is preparing to vote on a new deal to raise the debt ceiling.  The deal was negotiated over the weekend after intense negotiations between the White House and the leaders of the House and Senate.  The deal would raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion (which would be enough to last through the 2012 elections) and require immediate spending cuts.  The first round of cuts would total $1 trillion over ten years.  The second tranche would involve a “super committee” of 12 members of Congress and involve an additional $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion.  The weakest part of the deal is that there is no requirement that a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) be passed.  The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) does not believe there are enough provisions to protect the taxpayer and urges the House and Senate to vote “NO” on the deal.

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  • Time to Cancel the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS)

    David Williams on June 30, 2011

    Today (June 30), President Obama officially thanked Defense Secretary Robert Gates and awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his hard work as sec. Gates leaves the Pentagon.  When Leon Panetta takes over as Secretary of Defense on July 1, he will have many budgetary issues to deal with, including the future of the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS).  Originally conceived as the replacement to the Patriot missile system, MEADS is being jointly built by the United States, Italy, and Germany, but Americans are shouldering more than 50 percent of the cost. Even though the Army has opposed the project, Congress allocated an additional $800 million in February and, last week, voted to further continue funding the project.  Unfortunately, misinformation and political wrangling may delay the cancellation of the program.

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  • TPA Uncovers $2.1 Billion in Defense Earmarks: Taxpayer watchdog group first to report violation of earmark ban

    David Williams on June 23, 2011

    The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) today uncovered 61 earmarks worth $2.1 billion in the 2012 House Defense Appropriations Bill, despite a ban on earmarks passed last year. TPA is the first to report these appropriated funds.  "I'm baffled as to why some of the funds are being included in a defense bill," said Williams. "It seems as though the defense budget has become the island of misfit earmarks. The American people need their leaders to take responsibility for their actions, cut wasteful spending, and fulfill their promise to end earmarks once and for all."


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  • An Earmark By Any Other Name Would Smell As Porky

    on May 31, 2011

    Leading up to the election last year there was quite a bit of talk about eliminating earmarks from the federal budget so Democrats and Republicans agreed to a two year earmark moratorium.  Taxpayers weren’t sure if it was a just a ploy to get re-elected or if Congress had truly seen the light and decided that it was time to end the practice of earmarking.  In April, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance uncovered earmarks in the fiscal year 2011 NASA and Department of Defense spending bills indicating that Congress had not been broken of the bad habit of earmarking.

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  • MEADS Needs To Be Defunded Immediately

    David Williams on May 24, 2011

    As Leon Panetta is confirmed as Secretary of Defense there are many questions that he will have to face. One of the most daunting tasks in front of Sec. Panetta will be the ability to balance a strong defense with necessary budget cuts. A program that could serve as a real life case study is the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS). MEADS, originally conceived as the replacement to the Patriot missile system, is being jointly built by the United States, Italy, and Germany with the Americans shouldering more than 50 percent of the cost. Even though the Army doesn’t want the project, there was an additional $800 million allocated in February 2011 for the project through 2013.

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  • Transportation Funding Will Be A Big Challenge For Former Earmarkers

    David Williams on May 23, 2011

    After seven extensions to the last transportation authorization bill, the 2005 Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (TEA-LU), Congress is poised to pass a transportation authorization bill in 2011.   The recent talk about spending cuts and shunning earmarks will make this authorization bill even more interesting than previous ones.  A transportation authorization bill is important to enable the federal government to fund the transportation needs of the country.  Unfortunately, over the last 20 years, transportation authorization bills have been politicized and earmarked without regard to transportation needs.  A recent editorial by the new Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), is either good news for taxpayers or just more rhetoric.

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  • Alternate Engine Shouldn't Make a Comeback

    David Williams on May 11, 2011

    Congress has supposedly banned earmarks. However, since the ban, billions of dollars in pet projects were added in the fiscal year 2011 budget which was just finalized last month. Earmarks exemplify government’s inability to prioritize and live within its means, and no project is more emblematic of this out-of-control spending than the $3.2 billion alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter.

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  • MEDIA ALERT!!

    David Williams on April 28, 2011

    The expose of the $311 million in earmarks for the Department of Defensefor fiscal year 2011 has kept the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) quite busy.  Catch TPA President David Williams talking about the earmarks and federal budget issues on WHO in Des Moines, Iowa; The Lars Larson Show; WWL in New Orleans, La.; WLW in Cincinnati, Ohio; WBAL in Baltimore, Maryland; and WSPD in Toledo, Ohio.

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  • TPA Uncovers $311 Million in Defense Earmarks

    David Williams on April 26, 2011

    The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) today uncovered 16 earmarks worth $311 million in the Navy Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Program. This is the second major TPA finding in a series of reports on government waste, fraud and abuse. The first report unearthed $3 billion in earmarks for NASA.

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  • Victory!

    David Williams on April 20, 2011

    Taxpayer victories are few and far between, so when news came out that a Defense-funded art project was being scrapped, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) was thrilled because of the savings and the fact that it is one of the first examples of government waste exposed by the group.  On April 1, 2011, TPA exposed an impending Department of Defense expenditure at the new $900 million Mark Center in Alexandria, Virginia which included a frog sculpture that lights up, gurgles “sounds of nature’ and carries a 10-foot fairy girl on its back.  Now, it looks like the frog has lost its legs and funding.

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  • Taxpayers on the Hook for Unnecessary Art Spending

    David Williams on April 1, 2011

    The Defense Department may be shelling out $600,000 for a sculpture of a gurgling frog. According to U.S. News and World Report, “A $600,000 frog sculpture that lights up, gurgles ‘sounds of nature’ and carries a 10-foot fairy girl on its back could soon be greeting Defense Department employees who plan to start working at the $700 million Mark Center in Alexandria, Va. this fall.”  While a final decision has not been made yet, the frog sculpture is one of the finalists for the center.

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