At a rally on Monday evening in Storm Lake, Iowa, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders called for an audit of the Department of Defense for fraud and wasteful spending, as soldiers are forced to rely on food stamps.
The candidate asserted that when we speak on making the government more cost effective, it doesn’t have to mean cutting Medicaid and food stamps for those who are in need, after being asked about DOD waste and military families being short changed.
His remarks on the issue begin approximately 10 minutes into this video:
“What it does mean is taking a hard look at an agency which receives $600 billion per year where there is an immense amount of waste and fraud,” Sanders said.
Sanders explained that on the day before the tragic attacks on the World Trade Center, September 10, 2001, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had given a speech declaring that there are trillions of dollars unaccounted for within the Department of Defense. He stated that due to the horror that occurred the next day, that speech did not receive very much attention.
According to Sanders, the DOD is the only agency of government which, to his knowledge, cannot sustain an independent audit.
“You go to them and ask how many private contractors we have. Well, they really don’t know. It’s so complicated, a huge complicated system.”
Sanders declared that as this agency is receiving $600 billion annually, there is a massive amount of waste and fraud. He explains that their spending needs to be looked into, as an example of a better option for making the government more cost effective without taking away needed programs for our citizens.
“And while we have massive cost overruns with defense contractors, we’ve got deployment after deployment for our soldiers, and we’ve got military families on food stamps. So maybe we want to change that.”
The Vermont senator had also spoke on the fact that some 6,700 US service members have died in the operations in Iraq and beyond, with more than 500,000 returning home with post traumatic stress disorder or brain injuries, and how he is not going to be quick to rush our citizens off to fight wars.
Not one to hold back on calling out government agencies, Sanders previously worked across party lines in 2009 to successfully pass a requirement to audit the Federal Reserve Board.
“When millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages, the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates is bad news for working families,” Sanders said in a statement earlier this month after the Fed announced they will be raising their rates for the first time in nearly a decade.
Sanders had began the rally by walking to the podium to a Bruce Springsteen tune with a chorus that repeats, “wherever this flag’s flown, we take care of our own,” the perfect sentiment for the rally. He was greeted by an excited and packed crowd with signs, buttons, and t-shirts galore supporting his presidential bid.
As the event concluded, he received an enthusiastic standing ovation from the crowded room.