Massachusetts Forks over $177 Million in State Taxes to the Pentagon

Just weeks before Tax Day, April 15, Governor Deval Patrick, Obama’s “close friend,” signed into law a bond bill that dispenses $177 million in Massachusetts State Taxes to the Pentagon for construction and “upgrades” of U.S. military bases in the state. That’s right, not federal taxes but state taxes.

On April 15, the federal govt. collected about $1 trillion in personal income taxes. The Pentagon will get $600 billion this year that we know of, and along with the CIA, NSA, the costs of overseas wars as in Iraq, Libya, Syria and now Ukraine, the bill for the imperial-military complex will come to about $1 trillion. Does not the war machine get enough as it oinks away at the federal trough, without gouging us at the state level also?

Meanwhile cities and towns are in dire need of more state aid for schools and other crucial spending, like roads, bridges and senior centers many of which are in a terrible state. Taxes have been raised in many cities and towns because of the lack of such funds from the state coffers, further burdening the taxpayers.

But it is worse. Similar legislation has been proposed in other states, and so the $177 million tax scam in Massachusetts may serve as a pilot project elsewhere. In fact it is likely that states which refuse to chip in may be told that the military bases in their states and the jobs that go with them will be moved elsewhere, setting off an unseemly bidding war to house the machinery of death and destruction.

Still worse, the bill passed without any opposition voiced in the House and with only two nay votes in the Senate which houses 40 members. It scarcely needs to be pointed out that the Mass. Legislature is almost exclusively Democrat and that many of these Dems tell their liberal constituents that they are against the war on Iraq and Afghanistan – or at least they were while Bush was in office.

The technique of guaranteeing passage was tried and true, with beneficiary military installations located in many locations across the state, guaranteeing that some substantial pork would come to a neighborhood near many legislators or their buddies. The installations covered are: Westover Air Force Base, Barnes Air National Guard Base, Natick Soldiers Systems Center, Fort Devens, Hanscom Air Force Base and the Massachusetts Military Reservation.

$177 is no chump change as Senator Tarr said, as he introduced the bill for fleeting “debate” in the Senate: “These capital dollars, this is (sic) unprecedented in its magnitude.” That, by the way was, supposed to be praise, not condemnation, of this latest bit of robbery. And of course the most corrupt form of government spending next to the Pentagon, CIA, NSA etc is construction where many palms are inevitably greased and many hands are in the till up to their elbows. The state where the very leaky Big Dig had huge cost overruns and the Brothers Bulger reigned supreme until recently is no stranger to such thievery. Finally you can bet that, once the Pentagon gobbles up this first tribute, they will come back for more – and more and more. Consider this just a down payment.

Now let us give credit where credit is due. Senators Patricia Jehlen and Robert Eldridge, both liberal Democrats, were the sole two nay votes in the entire legislature and their comments in the brief debate deserve to be read in full, especially by Massachusetts residents. They are to be found in footnotes.1,2 Otherwise there were perfervid expressions of patriotism and huzzahs all around for the “men in uniform” as the solons casually dispensed the hard earned money of the taxpayer to the Pentagon, already bloated to the point of bursting. Especially disappointing was the support given the bill by the supposedly libertarian, Republican, “antitax” Senator Robert Hedlund and the two GOP reps in the House who have enjoyed libertarian backing. Here we have them throwing away tax dollars and propping up an imperial war machine, both of which ought to be anathema to rock-ribbed libertarian Republicans. Of course they can only claim a mouse’s share of the blame since the Dems voted in droves for the scam.

There was virtually no mention of this new type of theft in the liberal mainstream media here.3 Nor was there so much as a whimper of objection to this bill, either in emails or newsletters from “progressive” outfits, which are accustomed to speaking in whimpers, nor from the libertarian corner. Notably, the great “progressive” Dem, U.S. James McGovern, backed the legislation.

With the deposit of this legislation an unseemly stench wafts up from the Cradle of Liberty. The bill should be rescinded. And other states should be on the lookout for similar bills. Pentagon spending is not growing fast enough for the imperial elite, and they will be looking for new avenues whereby to fleece the taxpayer. Deval Patrick and his co-conspiring lawmakers may have handed them a new form of robbery, which is likely to be visited on taxpayers from Massachusetts’s shore to the other shining shore.

  1. Massachusetts State Senator Eldridge. “I became aware of it in the spring and did my due diligence. I took a step back and thought about where we are no military spending. We are authorizing state dollars but part of the effort is in partnership with the military. We support the military in defense of our country, but questions are raised on spending state dollars for a national purpose. Think back, military spending has increased by 69 percent since 2001. It’s now 594 billion dollars in the FY 14 federal budget. We are now spending more on military than before the Cold War. The money we are putting forth is intertwined with that spending. There is a base in my district, Fort Devens, mostly used as a training facility. I toured it. I saw superb and excellent facilities and men and women. Soldiers are being trained to serve overseas. There were modern buildings. There was new infrastructure. In my conversations, the gentleman providing the tour said many of the buildings were new. Money is flowing to our bases. It’s been mentioned since my tour that some of this money could be used to enhance training facilities. I am sure that is true. Schools and senior centers could be upgraded. Roads and bridges could use improvements. We have many, many domestic needs. In 2012 the Political Economic Research Institute did a study and recognized a cut in military spending could lead to a minor loss of jobs, but realized funds are shifted to other uses like education, construction, health care and clean energy and there could be an increase in jobs created. When we are thinking about the use of this bond money to match the federal dollars to create jobs, let’s pause and think that a much better use of our taxayer dollars, whether state or federal, is for domestic purposes. There have been infrastructure improvements at Devens and there’s been private investment and there are schools there, the Devens part that is not owned by the military. There are more jobs than when it was a military base. I have seen the ability for state dollars, for federal dollars for domestic purposes to create more jobs than existed under the military at Fort Devens. []
  2. Massachusetts State Senator Jehlen: “I know this is an important issue, especially in many of our districts. But whenever we spend or bond money there are opportunity costs. There are limits of our bonding capacity. Despite your good arguments, I will vote no. The state has a role to build public infrastructure that will benefit everyone. Investments in education and transportation should be neutral in terms of the sector it benefits. The state should allow the invisible hand of the free market to determine what gets built. The federal government is one of many employers that looks at this state and hopes for subsidies. Every argument can be made about attracting other sectors. All sectors pay for the improvements and they should all have the opportunity to benefit. Investments should be sector neutral. We just this morning read about residents going without fuel aid because the federal government is withholding assistance. Massachusetts sends more to Washington than we get back and it’s ironic that we are being asked to spend on something that is so clearly a federal function. Our funds are not unlimited.” []
  3. As we go to press the Boston Globe today runs an article on this matter, weeks after the bill was signed and just after the topic has become a subject of conversation in the Boston Chapter of Come Home America. What a coincidence. The Globe article is concerned not with the substance of the bill but with shady lobbying by former interim Senator Cowan a buddy of the governor who appointed him. []

John V. Walsh can be reached at john.endwar@gmail.com. Read other articles by John V..