This has been on and off in the papers for months, Congress is forcing expenditures into the Pentagon defense budget that are both unwanted and in a way, dangerous to the troops. I’m talking about the addition of funding for a second F-35 fighter jet engine and adding funding for additional C-17 transport planes. What does Congress want? They want to fund a second engine for the F-35 joint strike fighter, and to purchase additional C-17 cargo planes. What does the Pentagon say? Well the additional engine is superfluous and not wanted. The air force says they have more than enough airlift capability with the C-17 cargo planes they already have. Defense Secretary Robert Gates agrees with the Pentagon, if the military doesn’t want these line items, then keep them out of the budget.
BUT, with the distribution of contracts and assembly lines, the end of the C-17 production line could come at the cost of jobs in 44 different states. Congressmen for those states, wanting to appease their constituents (ie not be seen as voting AGAINST jobs) have chosen to go against the military recommendations and are looking to force the C-17 into the budget. A plane the air force has said they don’t want.
Congress has also added funding for a second F-35 engine, to promote competition and of course, prevent the loss of jobs at lobby happy General Electric Rolls-Royce. However the pentagon has said they don’t want a second engine, and it will be wasteful spending. So congress voted to put funding in for the second engine against the wishes of the military.
What does this mean? Congress is increasing the budget and adding in weapons that are not wanted. Ask the military what they would rather spend the money on. Planes they don’t want, superfluous engines, or maybe body armor and additional funding to protect our troops? But Congress is only looking out for their own jobs, not the best interest of the military and our troops. Its a shame.
Secretary Gates has said he will recommend that President Obama veto any budget that includes these unwanted line items, and I hope he does.