"I care that the taxpayers' money is being spent in a prudent manner."That was Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner defending himself against charges that he was heartless or uncaring, after he voted against any federal assistance for victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Spending $51.8-billion was
"throwing money at the problem," he said, and a lot will be wasted, pointing to reports of previous mismanagement of money in New Orleans. He talked about "people with sticky fingers siphoning it off."Sensenbrenner complained that there were not enough controls or oversight in place. He didn't offer any amendments or suggestions about how to make sure the money was spent appropriately. He simply voted against giving any aid to the victims, becoming one of only 11 people in the entire Congress to take that hard-hearted stand.
So Fighting Jim came to mind, naturally, when the New York Times reported:
WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 — Military officials said Thursday that contracts worth $6 billion to provide essential supplies to American troops in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan — including food, water and shelter — were under review by criminal investigators, double the amount the Pentagon had previously disclosed.Given his stand on Katrina relief, you'd think Sensenbrenner would be all over this one, wouldn't you? It's like money being spent on our military is being funneled through the Dept. of Waste, Fraud and Abuse.
In addition, $88 billion in contracts and programs, including those for body armor for American soldiers and matériel for Iraqi and Afghan security forces, are being audited for financial irregularities, the officials said.
Taken together, the figures, provided by the Pentagon in a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee, represent the fullest public accounting of the magnitude of a widening government investigation into bid-rigging, bribery and kickbacks by members of the military and civilians linked to the Pentagon’s purchasing system.
Sensenbrenner suggested, after Katrina, that Louisiana politicians had a history of corruption and siphoning off money.
Unlike the Pentagon, of course, which has spilled more money than most other federal agencies and programs have ever seen.
According to one Pentagon official, what's happening in Iraq is just what Sensenbrenner feared would happen on the Gulf Coast:
“In a combat environment, we didn’t have the checks and balances we should have in place,” said Shay D. Assad, director of defense procurement and acquisition policy. “So people who don’t have ethics and integrity are going to be able to get away with things."So far, Sensenbrenner's record seems just a trifle inconsistent.
He hasn't said a single word about the Pentagon contracts that are under audit and investigation.
He has, however, voted for every dollar the Bush administration has requested for Iraq. And he hasn't uttered a peep about waste, fraud, and mismanagement.
The National Priorities Project says Wisconsin taxpayers already have spent $7.3-billion on the Iraq war alone, with $1.2-billion coming from taxpayers in Sensenbrenner's district, the wealthiest in the state.
For that same $1.2-billion spent by Sensenbrenner's constituents on the Iraq war, 214,341 children could have been provided with health care for the length of the war, or 9,996 units of affordable housing could have been built, the group says.
Heartless when it comes to helping people in need, Sensenbrenner is Daddy Warbucks, the last of the big spenders, when it comes to fighting Bush's senseless, endless war.