Congress more interested in spending than saving

Re: "Why we must audit the Pentagon," Aug. 19

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., points out valid reasons why the Pentagon and the nation must know how taxpayers' money is spent.Having worked in the Pentagon as a budget policy person, and later as a DoD acquisition professor, I can intimately relate to his concerns.

During my tenure, various cost reporting systems and defense acquisition reforms have been implemented by various defense secretaries since the 1960s.For example, Sec. Robert S. McNamara's wiz kids brought in the "Planning, Programming, and Budgeting System." Other programs, like cost, schedule, and control systems criteria system, were geared to report how the Pentagon was spending its monies.

However, as reported by Sen. Tom Coburn, members of Congress were and still are more interested in getting defense dollars and jobs for their particular states and districts.We must not be so naive to believe that auditing the Pentagon will get the attention of the Congress, because its members are supporting a different agenda closer to their homes.

Col. Ronald L. Baker (USAF-Retired)


Gov. McDonnell overreacts to MWAA plane ticket

Re: "Too little, too late for ethically challenged MWAA," Local Editorial, Aug. 15

The Metropolitan Washington Airport's Authority Board has been the subject of wide-ranging criticism for granting its directors an overly generous travel policy. This policy led Gov. Bob McDonnell to remove Loudoun resident Dennis Martire from the MWAA Board, citing Martire's travel on behalf of MWAA as the cause.

But a Fairfax judge recently ruled that McDonnell had not demonstrated sufficient cause to remove Martire., which is not surprising given that no taxpayer money was involved. Numerous MWAA directors traveled using funds derived from the service fees paid by airlines and other airport users.

Most people would probably be in favor of a more austere travel policy to free up additional resources to improve the airports. An obvious solution would be to revise MWAA's policies with some common-sense reforms and then move on.

Instead, MWAA critics have responded in ways that are extravagantly disproportionate to the original incidents. Gov. McDonnell elected to embroil the state in litigation over a $9,000 plane ticket that will

cost millions in legal fees to resolve. Even if MWAA's travel budget was too generous, we shouldn't let the governor compound the mistake by wasting millions of taxpayer dollars on needless litigation that a

more prudent governor would have avoided.

Public servants have an obligation to ensure the solutions we propose aren't many times worse than the problems they are designed to solve. Gov. McDonnell has lost in court. Now it's time to work

together to ensure MWAA is operating properly and completing Phase II of Rail to Dulles.

Stevens R. Miller

Former member,

Loudoun County Board of Supervisors

Obama campaign descends from hope to smear

From his positive 2008 campaign of "hope and change," President Obama has descended into a negative campaign of attack and smear in 2012.

Obama's negative campaigning started early in May against Mitt Romney and Bain Capital, causing Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a longtime Obama ally and campaign surrogate, to deplore as "nauseating" the attack against private equity financing.

The negative attacks on Romney and Bain have only continued and intensified since,coming froma White House-connected super-PAC. The most egregious was an attempt to link Romney's tenure at Bain (which ended in 1999) with a steelworker's wife's death from cancer in 2006 without any plausible connection.

I can't recall a nastier, dirtier campaign than President Obama's re-election effort so far.

Jim Hartman

Berkeley, Calif.