Today debate will heat up in the house over the spending bill for the rest of the fiscal year. One of the biggest issues is going to be over the F-35 fighter jet, specifically the engine. President Obama and Secretary Gates have called for putting a hold on spending for the engine. Even George Bush did the same thing in his last year in office. None of that matters to people like John Boehner though:
The engine battle pits Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates — who say the engine would waste almost $3 billion over the next few years — against GOP leaders like House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, whose state is a chief beneficiary. The spending measure includes $450 million for the engine, which would be built by the General Electric Co. and Rolls-Royce in Ohio, Indiana and other states.
This is an earmark, plain and simple, but to show how bad of an earmark it is, let’s have a look at the history of the F-35 development.
The new generation fighter jet has been in production since 2003, with the first test flight was in 2006. The original contract, which was awarded in 2001 for ten years, has been extended to 2016.
For the really nasty facts, let’s get into the numbers. The price tag for each jet has nearly doubled, now reaching $92 million. Overall the program’s price tag has reached $382 billion, making it the most costly defense program in history. And like pharmaceutical research, the American citizen is once again picking up the majority of the tab for the world:
The United States is covering 90 percent of the cost of the development but has participation from Britain, Italy, Turkey, the Netherlands, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Australia.
Other nations, including Israel and Singapore, have signed contracts to buy the plane.
If John Boehner and the GOP was serious about cutting spending, then this white elephant wouldn’t be up for debate. The desires of the current President, former President and Defense Secretary would be upheld. But we know that the Boehner clan isn’t really about cutting spending. They just want to stop government from helping its people. Hopefully the new Tea Party members in the House will stand by their principals and vote against John Boehner on this. If we want to be serious about cutting spending, then defense spending needs to be on the table as well as everything else. Our country spends more annually on defense than the next 18 nations combined. If that is hard to comprehend, take a look at this chart:
We spend more than double what the next 4 biggest military nations spend combined. That is ridiculous, wasteful and one of the biggest contributors to our nation’s budget woes.
When Republicans talk about cutting spending, unless they are willing to talk defense spending, they are simply blowing smoke. Perhaps the GOP should listen once again to a former Republican President when he warned about the “military-industrial complex”. Ike was right, but his words have quickly fallen on deaf ears in his own party.