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Where is the Money Going?

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President Bush has spent more money on the US armed forces than any other American president. Where is the money going? It surely is not going towards the medical care of the wounded Iraq war veterans, as last month's expose of the deplorable conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center by a Washington Post article proves. The Republican National Committee's (RNC) website points out that Bush has increased "defense spending by more than one-third ┬ľ the most in a generation."

In February the Bush administration requested over $700 billion for defense spending. Keep in mind that private contractors do much of the work previously done by the military or federal agencies. Currently there are 100,000 contractors operating in Iraq, almost the number of US military forces. In a March 2, 2007 letter from Rep. Henry Waxman, Chairman of the Committee on Government Reform, to Major General George Weightman, the former commander at Walter Reed, a memo is cited which was sent to Colonel Daryl Spencer, the Assistant Chief of Staff for Resource Management with the US Army Medical Command. The September 2006 memo concerned how the Bush administration's decision to privatize support systems at Walter Reed caused many "highly skilled and experienced personnel" to leave. Waxman noted that the memo said patient services "are at risk of mission failure."

According to Waxman's letter, Walter Reed gave a $120 million contract to IAP Worldwide Services to manage the facilities. "IAP is one of the companies who experienced problems delivering ice during the response to Hurricane Katrina," Waxman wrote. Waxman's letter also mentions that the CEO of IAP worked for Halliburton, the company Vice President Cheney formerly led. Once again, a company with ties to the Bush administration was awarded a lucrative government contract.

A November 30, 2005 report compiled by the Veteran's Administration (VA) claimed it has been the "long-standing policy of the federal government has been to rely on the private sector for needed commercial services." The report cited Bush's President Management Agenda which included an initiative involving competitive outsourcing, "using the competitive process to determine whether the government or a private sector contractor should perform a particular commercial activity."

Rep. Waxman's letter and the VA report make it clear where the money is going: straight into the pockets of corporations awarded for their loyalty to the Bush administration. "Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem," President Reagan proclaimed during his 1981 inaugural speech, beginning a legacy of outsourcing vital government services.
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Gina-Marie Cheeseman is a freelance writer with a passion for social justice. She grew up on a vineyard ranch in the San Joaquin Valley of California watching farmworkers toil in the searing sun. Her desire for social justice fermented along with (more...)
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