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No. of Recommendations: 18
The Pentagon’s Bottomless Money Pit
When the Defense Department flunked its first-ever fiscal review, one of our government’s greatest mysteries was exposed: Where does the DoD’s $700 billion annual budget go?

MARCH 17, 2019 8:00PM ET
By MATT TAIBBI



https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/pent...



If and when the defense review is ever completed, we’re likely to find a pile of Enrons, with the military’s losses and liabilities hidden in Enron-like special-purpose vehicles, assets systematically overvalued, monies Congress approved for X feloniously diverted to Program Y, contractors paid twice, parts bought twice, repairs done unnecessarily and at great expense, and so on.

Enron at its core was an accounting maze that systematically hid losses and overstated gains in order to keep investor money flowing in. The Pentagon is an exponentially larger financial bureaucracy whose mark is the taxpayer. Of course, less overtly a criminal scheme, the military still churns out Enron-size losses regularly, and this is only possible because its accounting is a long-tolerated fraud.






And here is the wrap up in the last 3 paragraphs:

Just over 50 years ago, Dwight Eisenhower gave his famous farewell address warning of the power of the “military-industrial complex.” The former war commander bemoaned the creation of a “permanent armaments industry of vast proportions,” and said the “potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

Eisenhower’s warning is celebrated by the left as a caution against the overweening political power of warmakers, but as we’re now seeing, it was predictive also as a fiscal conservative’s nightmare vision of the future. The military has become an unstoppable mechanism for hoovering up taxpayer dollars and deploying them in the most inefficient manner possible. Schools crumble, hospitals and obstetric centers close all over the country, but the armed services are filling warehouses for some programs with “1,000 years’ worth of inventory,” as one Navy logistics officer recently put it.

It’s the ultimate example of the immutability of the American political system. Even when there’s broad bipartisan consensus, and laws passed, and both money allocated for changes and agencies created to enact them — if the problem is big enough, time bends toward corruption, and chaos always outlasts reform. Eisenhower couldn’t have predicted how right he was.
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No. of Recommendations: 3
AGAIN we see the left oft repeating the rhetoric of Eisenhower's farewell address to support their campaign against the military.


But they always ignore the next part of that speech:

<<Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been over shadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.>>




Just as war is too important to be left to the generals, it is equally true that science and expert knowledge is too important to be left to scientists in their effort to substitute a government of technocrats for a government of the people.


We see that every day in the arrogance of the left.


Seattle Pioneer
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No. of Recommendations: 17
We see that every day in the arrogance of the left.

It's simply not a left/right issue: waste is waste. I can be pro-military, pro-servicemen and servicewomen and not be for waste and corruption.

There is a difference.

Pete
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No. of Recommendations: 26
Just as war is too important to be left to the generals, it is equally true that science and expert knowledge is too important to be left to scientists in their effort to substitute a government of technocrats for a government of the people.

We see that every day in the arrogance of the left.

================================================================

Wrong - the government of the right has corrupted our military-industrial complex. It is mind boggling how much waste, inefficiency and corruption has been permitted by the right in the name of patriotism, capitalism and freedom. This could only happen because the right is corrupt morally, intellectually and economically.

We see that every day in the arrogance of the right.

jaagu
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No. of Recommendations: 1
Wrong - the government of the right has corrupted our military-industrial complex. It is mind boggling how much waste, inefficiency and corruption has been permitted by the right in the name of patriotism, capitalism and freedom. This could only happen because the right is corrupt morally, intellectually and economically.

We see that every day in the arrogance of the right.

jaagu



The article mentions two prominent GOP politicians who made it their life's work to reel in Pentagon waste.

Taibbi points fingers at both Democrats and Republicans who sit on powerful committees for Pentagon procurement and who are supported by lobbyists from the MIC.

Taibbi mentions several times, and quotes several governmental sources, that Pentagon waste will not stop until we make laws which stop deep pocketed lobbyists from controlling government contracts and Congress members.

p.s. I consider myself a Social Democrat, not a DSA member.
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No. of Recommendations: 5
<<Just as war is too important to be left to the generals, it is equally true that science and expert knowledge is too important to be left to scientists in their effort to substitute a government of technocrats for a government of the people.

We see that every day in the arrogance of the left.

================================================================

Wrong - the government of the right has corrupted our military-industrial complex. It is mind boggling how much waste, inefficiency and corruption has been permitted by the right in the name of patriotism, capitalism and freedom. This could only happen because the right is corrupt morally, intellectually and economically. >>


The government of the left has corrupted science and academia as is illustrated by the limitless cry for MORE MONEY, racist admissions to universities and corruption of admissions in general, the running amuck of political ideology on campuses and the anti intellectual efforts to shut down free speech.

College campuses are FAR more corrupt than the military.



Seattle Pioneer
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No. of Recommendations: 4
The government of the left has corrupted science and academia as is illustrated by the limitless cry for MORE MONEY, racist admissions to universities and corruption of admissions in general, the running amuck of political ideology on campuses and the anti intellectual efforts to shut down free speech.

College campuses are FAR more corrupt than the military.

======================================

The government of the right does not even understand science and academia. The government of the right provides limitless money for military and industrial corruption, racist propaganda and legislation, destruction of our constitution, running amuck of political ideology and their anti intellectual efforts to shut down free speech. The government of the right is a bunch of liars and crooks (and many of them are going to jail).

The government of the right can not even keep any eye on real corruption - saying college campuses are far more corrupt than the military is just another example of lies that is the gold standard banner and false flag of the right wing government.

More than 1000 lies to the American people by the leader of the right wing government.

How pathetic - the right needs to be relegated to the garbage bin.

jaagu
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No. of Recommendations: 23
Once again, Seattle Pioneer quickly shifts the focus of the thread in to a left vs. right debate.

Congratulations for changing the subject. This one is about military spending.
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No. of Recommendations: 5
<<Once again, Seattle Pioneer quickly shifts the focus of the thread in to a left vs. right debate.

Congratulations for changing the subject. This one is about military spending.>>



Funny---- I saw Eisenhower's farewell address quoted to make a point.

I simply added the next paragraph of that speech in which Eisenhower made similar observations about abuses in science and academia. which liberals prefer to ignore.

In general, GOVERNMENT POWER of all kinds is all too often corrupted and abused.


Seattle Pioneer
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No. of Recommendations: 25
"We see that every day in the arrogance of the left."

Just how partisanly hateful does a person have to be in order to see military waste and corruption as a left right issue?

Seriously, seek out help on your hate. It is making you say some ridiculous things.
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No. of Recommendations: 22
Corruption is neither a policy of the left or the right. It is the policy, however, of politicians of both factions who depend on the huge campaign contributions of military contractors to get re-elected.

As long as there are no campaign contribution limits, no term limits on the Senate or the House, no limitation on defense contractors hiring ex-military as salesmen to the military and no limit on former employees of defense contractor employees becoming appointed officials of the government, you will have a system which encourages waste and corruption.

I spent a good part of my life as a government contractor and have seen numerous "inexplicable" procurements take place.

Characterising this as a function of either liberal Democrats or hawkish Republicans is ludicrous and does nothing more than to obscure that it is simple human nature - and each of the "Seven Deadly Sins" plays a part.

Under the guise of creating the world's strongest military, we have behaved no differently than we have when the government purchases pharmaceutical products for programs which they administer. The function of the US military is largely to guarantee the profitability of the defense contractors at the expense of the American tax-payers. It's not that our military is sub-standard, any more than our drugs are - it's just that we pay more for less than any other country.

In the same vein that we will never see Congress vote to impose term limits, insider trading penalties, and-lobbying etc., etc., you will not find them doing any sort of a meaningful audit of who is mis-spending our money and where.

As Pogo once said "We have met the enemy and it is us"

Jeff
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No. of Recommendations: 11
Just as war is too important to be left to the generals, it is equally true that science and expert knowledge is too important to be left to scientists in their effort to substitute a government of technocrats for a government of the people.

This really doesn't hold water. Scientists are not scheming to take over government. They do need funding, and I guess that is what Eisenhower was warning about. Engineers run some governments (France, China), but the US federal government is run by lawyers.

In the 115th Congress (2017 to 2018):
167 Members of the House (37.8% of the House) and 55 Senators (55% of the Senate) held law degrees;
1 physicist, 1 microbiologist, and 1 chemist, all in the House;
8 engineers (7 in the House and 1 in the Senate);
6 software company executives in the House and 2 in the Senate;

Eisenhower was a great general and so people repeat his warning about "unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex".
But Eisenhower was not a scientist and so people ignore his warning "public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite".
A similar quote from a Nobel-prize winning scientist's retirement speech would hold water.

This reminds me of a game theory analysis with a 2 by 2 table. Scientific uncertainty is one dimension, and political uncertainty the other.
political disagreement and scientific uncertainty lead to INACTION
political agreement and scientific uncertainty lead to RESEARCH
political disagreement and scientific consensus lead to NEGOTIATION
political agreement and scientific consensus lead to ACTION

Players in the NEGOTIATION square can either negotiate or try to move the science debate into unknown.
But if ACTION is taken, players that fail to negotiate will have more extreme losses.

                        politics    politics
disagreement agreement

science consensus NEGOTIATION ACTION
science unknown INACTION RESEARCH
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No. of Recommendations: 3
<<Eisenhower was a great general and so people repeat his warning about "unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex".
But Eisenhower was not a scientist and so people ignore his warning "public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite".
A similar quote from a Nobel-prize winning scientist's retirement speech would hold water.>>


His one warning is as good as the other. You just don't like it.

And the science-university complex has gone a long way towards corrupting itself, science, universities and education in general. Voters have written a blank check to education and universities for decades, and see the abuse and corruption it has generated!


Seattle Pioneer
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Engineers run some governments (France, China)

===========================

I would like to see the link to that statement!

jaagu
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Jeff OrmontUS, I salute your response. Spot on.
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Jeff,

Term limits is one of those good sounding ideas that stinks in practice. It ends up empowering faceless mechanisms that most efficiently stick a succession of obedient, carefully groomed, mostly ignorant of the routes of power, scripted pseudo-politicians ("apparatchiki") into office.

If you have a good representative you want to keep her.

See the Federalist Papers, especially Madison, for earlier arguments.


david fb
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His one warning is as good as the other. You just don't like it.
No. I don't agree with it. Show me some evidence.

Eisenhower warned of two "equal and opposite" dangers:
"domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment"
and "public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite".

STEM scholars have many career options today. Federal research dollars are one option, but there are many other sources of funding. NIH research has benefited the US greatly. And supporting research is in the US Constitution.

The second danger is only a problem if the result is more bad decisions. But there is no evidence of that. Are we better off following science or not? There is evidence that people who disregard science are making bad decisions. Measles or polio anyone?

Eisenhower gives another warning in his farewell address:
"Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society's future, we – you and I, and our government – must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without asking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow."
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And supporting research is in the US Constitution.

I see where legal protections for the results of research - so that those who did it and paid for it can profit from it, if it produces a worthwhile result - is in the Constitution.

But that's all I see.
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borisnand writes:

Engineers run some governments (France, China)...

===========================================================

I am still waiting for your link/source for your dubious statement above.

jaagu
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Countries have different methods to arrive at policy decisions. Why has nuclear power been favored more in France than the US?

The USA is the world's largest producer of nuclear power, accounting for more than 30% of worldwide nuclear generation of electricity. The country's nuclear reactors produced 805 billion kWh in 2017, 20% of total electrical output. There are two reactors under construction.
http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/country-pro...

France derives about 75% of its electricity from nuclear energy, due to a long-standing policy based on energy security. Government policy is to reduce this to 50% by 2035.
http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/country-pro...

The United States, France, and Britain use markedly different kinds of industrial policies to foster economic growth.
https://scholar.harvard.edu/dobbin/publications/forging-indu...
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And supporting research is in the US Constitution.

I see where legal protections for the results of research - so that those who did it and paid for it can profit from it, if it produces a worthwhile result - is in the Constitution.

But that's all I see.


The US Constitution says The Congress shall have Power:
"To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;"

"promote the Progress" and "supporting" seem similar to me. The point I was trying to make was that as far back as 1788 science was seen as important for progress. Which do you prefer: the Enlightenment or the Dark Ages? Since you are posting using a computer, I am guessing you are fine with scientific progress.

Eisenhower was making a similar point, saying both the Military and Science are vital, but both have some potential problems.
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Countries have different methods to arrive at policy decisions. Why has nuclear power been favored more in France than the US?

====================================================

Because France did not have coal/oil/gas like the UK and US. Also France wanted nuclear weapons so they combined their efforts for power and weapons under the mantle of the military.

But you are still ignoring my question of what leads you to the conclusion the France is lead by engineers?

jaagu
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The US Constitution says The Congress shall have Power:
"To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;"

"promote the Progress" and "supporting" seem similar to me. The point I was trying to make was that as far back as 1788 science was seen as important for progress.


Yes, the Constitution gives the government permission to do a certain thing - "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts".

But it doesn't say "by any means Congress feels like." It specifies a means - "by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." In other words, patents and copyrights.

A government grant is not a patent or a copyright. Hiring researchers, writers, inventors, etc. on the government payroll is not a patent or copyright.

Which do you prefer: the Enlightenment or the Dark Ages? Since you are posting using a computer, I am guessing you are fine with scientific progress.

False dichotomy. Do you have any rational arguments to offer instead?
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<<But it doesn't say "by any means Congress feels like." It specifies a means - "by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." In other words, patents and copyrights. >>



Yes, using the expressauthoriation for Federal patents and copyright to extenuate all manner of other Federal spending on science is absurd.


This kind of thing led to Eisenhower's warning about abuse and corruption of science in his farewell address:

<<Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been over shadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.>>


Seattle Pioneer
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Because France did not have coal/oil/gas like the UK and US. Also France wanted nuclear weapons so they combined their efforts for power and weapons under the mantle of the military.

But you are still ignoring my question of what leads you to the conclusion the France is lead by engineers?


I didn't say "France is lead by engineers". So that's not my "conclusion". It was more of an aside to my observation that the US government is not overrun by Technocrats which was one of the things Eisenhower warned about. And I responded to your question with a specific example: Nuclear Power. Read the book if you are interested in the differences in industrial policies. Why did the US abandon Nuclear Power in the 1980's? Coal explains some but not all the difference in Nuclear Power deployment: 20% in US vs 75% in France.
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Yes, the Constitution gives the government permission to do a certain thing - "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts".

But it doesn't say "by any means Congress feels like." It specifies a means - "by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." In other words, patents and copyrights.


Are you claiming all Federal government spending on basic research is unconstitutional?

I am only saying that science was seen as important in 1788. That's it. Do you disagree with this simple statement?
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Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

Boy howdy did we ever avoid that problem!
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<<. It was more of an aside to my observation that the US government is not overrun by Technocrats which was one of the things >>


I agree that the United States is not overrun by actual experts. Instead, it is overrun by pseudo experts cranking out "studies to feed the media whatever they are hungry for today.

And even actual experts often imagine that their bright ideas should rule and they and their projects should be funded by government, whatever billions they might want to spend.

That's all corrupt behavior, and just the kind of thing Eisenhower warned against ----right alongside about his warnings about the military having untoward power and influence.


Same thing, except of course liberals prefer to quote the one endlessly and ignore the other.



Seattle Pioneer
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<<I am only saying that science was seen as important in 1788. That's it. Do you disagree with this simple statement?>>


I agree that it was seen as important enough to secure the Federal government power to issue patents and copyrights.

But since the constitution was limited to the express powers granted to the Federal government, and those were the only power expressly granted regarding science, that's the extent of the Federal government's legitimate authority and interest in science.


And guess what ----not a DIME authorized for scientific research ---anywhere! You can get a patent for something you invent that you think might be commercially viable though.


Seattle Pioneer
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I didn't say "France is lead by engineers". So that's not my "conclusion". It was more of an aside to my observation that the US government is not overrun by Technocrats which was one of the things Eisenhower warned about. And I responded to your question with a specific example: Nuclear Power. Read the book if you are interested in the differences in industrial policies. Why did the US abandon Nuclear Power in the 1980's? Coal explains some but not all the difference in Nuclear Power deployment: 20% in US vs 75% in France.

=====================================


Well you did say "Engineers run some governments (France, China)..."

Nuclear power is a poor example of showing France has more Technocrats in their government than US.

Look at Germany and nuclear power. Look at Japan and nuclear power. Look at UK and nuclear power. Russia and nuclear power. Each one has a different reason for using/abandoning nuclear power.

The US abandoned nuclear power because of TMI-2 and Chernobyl accidents. US only finished some of the nuclear plants that were in construction in the 1980s. The other plants in design/construction were cancelled due to mounting costs that the utilities could no longer cope with because of the new safety requirements after these accidents.

France slowed down their nuclear build after Chernobyl. France only started construction of their last two nuclear units in 1988 shortly after Chernobyl accident. All of their other nuclear plants were already built or in construction. Cost was not a problem because they government funded the nuclear power program.

Lack of other fuel sources is the what forced France and Japan to adopt nuclear power.

I would not call Macron and Rugy Technocrats. Emmanuel Macron is an ex-banker, who like many of his MPs had never been elected before becoming president. François de Rugy is a Green Party member and President of the National Assembly.
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I would not call Macron and Rugy Technocrats.
I agree. My minor aside was based on observations from decades ago, and so might be out of date.
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not a DIME authorized for scientific research

That is your view, but it is not shared by most people, the US courts, most of the US Congress, or even the current US President. So it is a lonely view. And it is not a correct legal reading. You are overlooking the comma which the US Supreme Court, full of top-notch lawyers, pays attention to. Also, the US Constitution Taxing and Spending Clause gives Congress the power to spend however it wants when the spending provides for the general welfare of the United States. The US Federal Government has long funded basic scientific research and will continue to do so.

"The great majority of countries now acknowledge the importance of STI for sustaining growth over the longer term."
http://uis.unesco.org/sites/default/files/documents/unesco-s...
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Also, the US Constitution Taxing and Spending Clause

There is no such clause.

There's a clause allowing Congress to tax, for the purpose of paying the government's legitimate bills including payment on debts previously incurred. That clause does not directly allow for spending.

There are a bunch of other clauses describing what sorts of things Congress can do that might generate those legitimate bills.

There is a legal presumption that every part of a law is intended by its drafters to have some effect. Reading "Congress can do whatever it wants" into any part of the Constitution renders most or all of Article 1 Section 8 - and several other scattered parts of the Constitution, some of which were debated at length in the Constitutional Convention so were obviously regarded by the drafters as being of great import - without effect, violating that presumption as well as the legislative history of the Constitution and quite a bit of court precedent regarding the limits of those grants of power, so must necessarily be regarded as a fatally flawed reading.
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The US Constitution does not have headings (it was hand written after all), and so does not directly name any Clauses. There are only Article and Section numbers. But some of the parts have been given names for ease of reference. What is called the Taxing and Spending Clause is Article I, Section 8, Clause 1:

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/constitution-transcri...

Taxing derives from "Power To lay and collect Taxes".
Spending derives from "provide for the common Defence and general Welfare".


Alexander Hamilton, one of the primary authors of The Federalist Papers, viewed spending as an enumerated power Congress could exercise independently to benefit the general welfare, such as to assist national needs in agriculture or education, provided that the spending is general in nature and does not favor any specific section of the country over any other.

In Helvering v. Davis, the Supreme Court disavowed almost entirely any role for judicial review of Congressional spending policies, thereby conferring upon Congress a plenary power to impose taxes and to spend money for the general welfare subject almost entirely to Congress's own discretion.

To date, the Hamiltonian view of the Taxing and Spending Clause predominates in case law.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxing_and_Spending_Clause
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The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

Yep, that's the one that gives Congress the power to tax.

If you can devise a tax that provides for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States, then go for it.

This specific clause provides Congress with no power to spend - just the power to tax to raise money to spend.

(So why is that middle part there? It's a protection against a common practice of states under the Articles of Confederation: to specify where and/or how the national government will spend money it gets from that state, usually meaning "actually, you're going to send the money back to this state." With this clause, the state can't pile on additional restrictions on how Congress spends money.)

A government grant is not a tax. A government spending program is not a tax. Government employment is not a tax. Taxes can (should) pay for those things - but the government's authority to do them is not in this clause.

You haven't attempted to answer how most of the remainder of Article 1 Section 8 has any effect, if the first clause is interpreted as "Congress can do anything it wants that isn't explicitly prohibited". Without such an explanation, this interpretation must be rejected.
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