A bipartisan group of eight senators is keeping the Pentagon's finances in the legislative spotlight as Congress grapples with how to derail massive spending cuts scheduled for early January.
In a Washington Examiner op-ed published Saturday, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) urged the upper chamber to pass the Audit the Pentagon Act, reminding readers that the legislation boasts co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle.
"Both parties have been complicit in letting DoD off the book when it comes to producing an audit, and this bipartisan bill is a good first step on the road back to fiscal sanity and sobriety," Coburn wrote.
Earlier this month, Coburn introduced the Pentagon audit bill with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.). The bill's co-sponsors include Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Scott Brown (R-Mass.), and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).
The senators' push for a Pentagon audit comes as the Department of Defense faces more than $500 billion in indiscriminate cuts over the next decade unless Congress can find another way to trim the federal deficit. Coburn argues that the looming sequester -- the formal term for the automatic slash to the defense budget and domestic programs -- could have been foreseen by a formal inventory of the Pentagon's finances.
"This bill ends the culture of 'don't ask, don't tell' budgeting within the Pentagon that says, 'don't ask us how we're spending money because we can't tell you,'" Coburn said in a statement earlier this month. "When the Pentagon can't tell Congress, or itself, how it is spending money good programs face cuts along with wasteful programs, which is the situation we found ourselves today under sequestration."
The Audit the Pentagon Act would put in place several incentives for defense officials to take a closer look at how they are spending federal money, such as halting the research and development of any new major weapons system until an audit occurs.
The bill seems to have a close ally in Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who has told lawmakers that he wants the Pentagon ready for a full audit by 2014.
In a brief moment of bipartisan cooperation earlier this summer, the House approved a separate bill that would open the Federal Reserve to a comprehensive audit, a symbolic gesture to long-time anti-Fed crusader Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). A Senate version sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is unlikely to come up for a vote this year because some Democrats fear that political considerations would inevitably seep into the audit process.
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Paul Ryan: QE2 Risks Inflation
Back in 2010, Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan explained that the Federal Reserves plan to purchase $600 billion worth of securities -- known as QE2 -- was little more than "sugar-high economics" that <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-14/romney-ryan-see-fed-qe-as-inflation-risk-amid-low-prices.html" target="_hplink">risked rising inflation and weakening the dollar</a>. But instead the opposite took place. According to Bloomberg: <blockquote>"Since that prediction by Ryan, who has been chosen by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney to be his running mate, the dollar has risen against major currencies and inflation has stayed below the Fed's goal of 2 percent."</blockquote>
Christina Romer: Unemployment Will Remain Below 8%
In early January of 2009, Christina Romer, economic adviser to then President-elect Barack Obama, made a prediction: massive government stimulus on the order that would eventually be passed by Congress would keep unemployment below 8 percent, reports <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/10/AR2009011001999.html" target="_hplink"><em>The Washington Post</em></a>. Without it, unemployment could reach as high as 9 percent. In July 2012, unemployment edged up to <a href="www.bls.gov" target="_hplink">8.3 percent</a>. It has not gone below 8 percent since <a href="http://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=z1ebjpgk2654c1_&met_y=unemployment_rate&idim=country:US&fdim_y=seasonality:S&dl=en&hl=en&q=us+unemployment+rate#!ctype=l&strail=false&bcs=d&nselm=h&met_y=unemployment_rate&fdim_y=seasonality:S&scale_y=lin&ind_y=false&rdim=country&idim=country:US&ifdim=country&tstart=984805200000&tend=1337227200000&hl=en_US&dl=en&ind=false" target="_hplink">January 2009</a>.
Jim Cramer: Obamacare Will Topple The Stock Market
On <a href="http://mediamatters.org/blog/2010/03/22/dow-finishes-up-following-health-care-vote-pagi/162074" target="_hplink">March 18, 2010</a>, Jim Kramer stated on Larry Kudlow's program that Obamacare would tank the stock market. The reform package was, in his words, "the single greatest impediment to the stock market going higher." On March 23 of that year, according to <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20000981-503544.html" target="_hplink">CBS News</a>, President Obama signed health care reform into law. Following Yahoo's tracking of the Dow Jones, the market on April 1 2010 was at 10,927. On August 17, over two years later, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was pegged at <a href="http://data.cnbc.com/quotes/.DJIA" target="_hplink">13,264</a>. Granted, the market could still take a nose dive. But odds are it won't be because of health care reform.
Michelle Bachmann: Obama Taking 'The Final Leap To Socialism'
In a radio interview Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann gave with Bill Bennet in March of 2009, the Minnesotan claimed that Obama's policies were representing the "final leap into socialism," <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2009/03/05/36590/buchmann-thwart-obama/" target="_hplink">Think Progress</a> reported. But alas, while Bachmann's sensational claim may have gotten her into the spotlight, the government has been engaged in selling its stake in the industries that it had to temporarily prop up. General Motors, an automaker that the U.S. government had to prop up with emergency capital, bought back all preferred shares held by the U.S. Treasury as of December 2010, reports <a href="http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2010/12/16/g-m-buys-back-2-1-billion-preferred-shares/" target="_hplink"><em>The New York Times</em></a>. Wall Street's largest banks that have frequently brought about wrath from liberals such as <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/18/opinion/18krugman.html?_r=1&ref=paulkrugman" target="_hplink">Paul Krugman,</a> like Citi, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, are still privately run.
Glenn Beck: U.S. Will Go Through 'Great Depression Times 100' (Or Hyperinflation)
In early 2010, then-Fox News commentator Glenn Beck said that the U.S. was likely in for a "Great Depression Times 100," reports <a href="http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201001050049" target="_hplink">Media Matters</a>, going on to say that the country would experience a period of hyperinflation. Unemployment during the Great Depression peaked at around 25 percent, according to an article published by <a href="http://www.bls.gov/opub/cwc/cm20030124ar02p1.htm" target="_hplink">the Bureau of Labor Statistics</a>. But even at the worst moments of the Great Recession, unemployment only reached slightly above 10 percent. Presently, it is <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/03/unemployment-rate-jobs-report-bls_n_1736843.html" target="_hplink">at 8.3 percent</a>, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With inflation estimated to remain stagnant at 1.5 percent through 2012, the nightmare warnings of hyperinflation expounded by Beck as well as by renowned "economist" <a href="http://www.cobdencentre.org/2010/10/peter-schiff-dollar-hyperinflation-is-coming-unless-policy-direction-is-rapidly-changed/" target="_hplink">Peter Schiff</a> appears to be just that. A nightmare.
Rick Santelli: 'Stagflation Is Almost A Certainty'
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Rush Limbaugh: Obamacare Will Leave 250 Million People Uninsured
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Mitt Romney: U.S. WIll Default If We Raise Debt Ceiling
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Ron Paul: Beware Of Runaway Inflation
Congressman Ron Paul believed that runaway inflation was "just horrendous" in May 2011, he said during an appearance on <a href="http://www.ronpaul.com/2009-05-12/ron-paul-warns-against-runaway-inflation/" target="_hplink">Fox Business News</a>. <a href="http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-states/inflation-cpi" target="_hplink">When Congressman Paul made that statement</a>, inflation was pegged at 3.2 percent and, after peaking at 3.9 percent that October, inflation has steadily fallen to 1.4 percent in July 2012.