HIGHTOWER: The Pentagon's Bloated Budget
"Off they go, Into the wild blue yonder, Flying so high, Into the sky..."These high-flyers, though, are not America's proud fighter pilots... but the big-butted Pentagon brass. In the multibillionous-dollar Pentagon budget approved by the congress, $17 billion more was appropriated than was requested. But the bulk of the increase doesn't go to soldiers -- it goes to the contractors who make weapons the Pentagon doesn't even want, and to pamper the brass.A billion dollars was stuffed into the "Defense" budget to provide luxury class travel for the nine top-ranking military commanders. These planes are not to take the generals to the front, God Forbid, but to scoot them back and forth to meetings here in the states and, who knows, maybe even to top policy golf outings. The Pentagon will lease six Gulfstream V executive jets so the big shots can fly high. It costs us $50 million a year to lease these six planes. Plus, congress bought a 737 jetliner just for the Marine Corps commander. The cost $63 million to buy it, though flying the thing is extra.Meanwhile, the Republican Senate Leader, Trent Lott of Mississippi, demanded and got $375 million put into the budget to develop an aircraft carrier that the military doesn't want. Could Lott's insistence on this project have anything to do with the fact that it would be built at the Ingalls Shipyard in Mississippi, a corporation that is a contributor to Sen. Lott?Referring to Majority Leader Lott's demand that these tax dollars go to this unwanted project, a ranking member of the appropriations committee said: "We try to take care of leadership wherever we can."This is Jim Hightower asking... Since when is pork-barrel politics "leadership," and when will they ever try to "take care of" us rank & file taxpayers?