Letters to the Editor

So much for end of the era of big government and draining the swamp

President Ronald Reagan said “government is the problem and not the answer,” and President Bill Clinton said “the era of big government is over.” Over the years, we’ve heard politicians and political observers talk about the government as if it’s the enemy. There is a bureaucracy that spends our tax dollars – derived from our paycheck – too freely, is inefficient, doesn’t fulfill its mission and needs to be smaller.

During the campaign, President Donald Trump talked about “draining the swamp.” However, there is one part of the government that seems to be above and beyond the swamp – the Pentagon. While other departments fight for every cent they can, the Pentagon has generated almost $6 billion over the past seven years by charging the armed forces excessive prices for fuel.

The Defense Department purchases its fuel from the Defense Logistics Agency. Prices are fixed for an entire year, supposedly to facilitate budgeting and protect against price volatility. The fuel is then resold to the military branches.

Sometimes the fuel premium reached $1 a gallon or more. The Pentagon charged the military branches $23 billion more than private airlines would have paid at market prices between 2010 and 2016. The Pentagon said that overhead and specialized military fuel requirements account for the vast majority of this difference, but it admits to a $5.6 billion windfall.

So much for end of the era of big government and draining the swamp. An informed citizenry would question this excessive spending more frequently.

Jason Sibert, Peace Economy Project, St. Louis

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