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Joint Letter from NTU and R Street: Oppose Wasteful NDAA

June 12, 2013

Dear Representative:

We are writing to express our opposition to H.R. 1960, the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). At a time of persistent debt and deficits, this legislation represents a missed opportunity to restrain military spending and address persistent waste at the Pentagon.

Instead of paring back expenditures, the NDAA would authorize approximately $552.1 billion for the base budget, which is a significant increase above the $486.3 billion appropriated last year.  More troubling, this would exceed the allocation provided in the sequester by $52 billion. We are particularly concerned that a failure to demonstrate fiscal responsibility on military spending could endanger attempts to rein in spending in other areas of the federal budget. 

Beyond the base budget, the legislation would provide $85.8 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations; a slight reduction from the $89.2 billion authorized last year despite the expected 39 percent draw-down of military operations in Afghanistan.

Recently, National Taxpayers Union and the R Street Institute released a joint report outlining 100 specific defense spending reductions that could save taxpayers nearly $1.9 trillion. To be clear, these recommendations are not intended to be enacted in their entirety; in fact, some would overlap or even clash with each other. Nonetheless, they provide an illustration of options that remain available to Members of Congress who understand that key components of our national security must include a strong private-sector economy and a prudently limited budget. The report’s items, culled from sources inside and outside government, are broken down into three sections:

  • Wasteful, unnecessary, or low-priority weapons systems, such as the SM-3 Block II-B missile (eliminated in favor of less expensive options), the F-35 fighter (replaced with other jets), refurbishment of M-1 tanks (delayed), and the Virginia class submarine (reduced in procurement). 50 recommendations for $385.8 billion in savings.
  • Personnel, compensation, and benefit reforms ranging from less spending on military bands to capping the troop presence in Europe; from health care benefit restructuring to adjusting the “high-three” retirement formula. 20 recommendations for $618.6 billion in savings.
  • Overhauling deficient processes and management structures, including a reduction in DoD printing costs, consolidation of foreign language contracts, combining support services at joint bases, and a full audit of Pentagon finances. 30 recommendations for $878.5 billion in savings.

We would urge lawmakers to reject H.R. 1960, and consult this study as well as others in order to craft a fiscally sound strategy for protecting Americans from foreign threats. NTU and R Street stand ready to assist you in developing an alternative NDAA that is more realistic and sustainable for the nation’s taxpayers.


Pete Sepp
Executive Vice President
National Taxpayers Union
Andrew Moylan
Outreach Director and Senior Fellow
R Street Institute