Why not go off cliff, save billions on F-22, F-35?
December 07, 2012 12:07 AM | 1860 views | 6 6 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print

On Jan. 1 the Congress-mandated “sequester” will kick in. Conventional wisdom seems to suggest that this will be devastating to the nation.

But choosing to go over the “cliff” may in fact be our best option. There will be some pain, but it is quite unrealistic to think that we can get out of the predicament we are in without experiencing some difficulty.

There are significant advantages to doing nothing at this time. For instance, restoring the Clinton-era tax rates and cutting the federal budget by 10 percent across the board will put our fiscal deficit on a path to resolution, especially given the likelihood that we will soon be ending the second of the two Bush wars.

The big ticket expense item has to do with the Pentagon budget. For the first time, defense planners will have to assess and prioritize their needs. This has been a long time in coming. The defense budget doubled after 9/11, primarily to fight two unnecessary wars as a result of an ill-considered approach to dealing with terrorism. From now on, it will be critically important to challenge the advisability of continuing to develop the kind of weaponry that was useful only to fight the Soviet Union in the 1970s. Moreover, there is a real question as to whether taxpayers are getting their money’s worth from our investments in new defense technologies.

Consider tactical fighter aircraft, specifically the F-22 and F-35 programs. If we need to cut spending, these two programs would seem a good place to start. Consider: to date taxpayers have purchased 187 of the F-22s, the cost for which has run into the billions; despite the fact that we have been fighting two wars for over 10 years no F-22s have been used in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Now we have the F-35 program and, like its predecessor, it has been plagued by delays and cost overruns. Yet, taxpayers are apparently on the hook to buy more than 2,000 of these planes.

This is a real tragedy and what makes it worse is that the direction seems firmly established as though it were on autopilot. Billions continue to be spent on weapons that don’t work and will likely never be used. All the while many Americans are unemployed and are losing their homes; 15 percent of the nation lives in poverty and this nation cannot even find a way to provide basic health services to everyone. Surely we can do a better job of apportioning our resources to meet the needs of our citizens while maintaining an appropriate level of national security.

As it turns out, the sequester is the only way to stop this madness and get the nation on a trajectory to a secure and prosperous future. We should be thankful that an incompetent Congress has put us on this path. We can finally get our house in order and Congress doesn’t have to do anything — but get out of the way.

Gordon P. Rondeau

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Matthew Zea
December 27, 2012
Why not focus on the cuts in Medicare, Social Security, and other giant expenditures that make the spending on the fighter jets look like pennies. I would rather spend our resources on engineers, plant workers, military personnel, and other citizens who partake in moving forward, and spend less on the lazy, homeless, and "underprivileged" To ignore the nightmare of "entitlements" and to focus on cutting down the best defensive military in the world is silly, and frankly shows us the direction our country is going. Down.
December 07, 2012
@ So last century: Why would Russia or China come after us in planes? Why do we use planes in any conflict? If we do away with advanced technology in defensive weapons, why have an army at all? I mean - heck - they aren't attacking us now - right?

I'm sure you didn't agree with Reagan's philosophy of "Peace Through Strength" either - that happened to bring us much more quickly to the breakup of the Soviet Union and the greatest threat to our country since WWII.

We know how well Obama's "Lead From Behind" strategy is working in Egypt, Syria, Libya, Iran etc, etc.........
Kevin Foley
December 09, 2012
@ West Cobb Bob - Reagan's peace through strength is a myth. The Soviet Union's iron grip began to loosen in 1979, when the shipyard workers went on strike in Gdansk, Poland and continued, drip by drip, until Communism collapsed under its own weight a decade later, not because of anything Reagan did or didn't do.

See my column for more on this topic.

Baloney Foley
December 10, 2012
Kevin Foley, do you live in an alternate reality, or is that the left wing garbage you learned from one of your Communist professors? Your grasp of military facts during the Cold War is sorely lacking and distorted. Did you ever serve in the military? What year did you graduate from West Point? Certainly, the way you speak, you must be a distinguished graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College. Your are so funny, Kevin, even a little entertaining, at times.
December 07, 2012
Gordon - the only thing we agree on is going over the fiscal cliff (although it likely won't happen).

The rate of poverty in this country has been roughly 15% for centuries. The TRILLIONS we have spent since LBJ's Great Society program has done nothing to reduce poverty except create millions who are dependent on the largess of government for their benefit. Medicaid and hospital policies currently provide FREE healthcare to those who cannot afford it - including expensive medications and surgeries. We don't need the government to tell us what healthcare we can have and how we access it. And last - if we don't have modern aircraft for war, if Russia or China (both of which are aggressively building similar craft) were to come after us, we will need thousands of sophisticated fighters. Yes - there is waste in the defense department, but folks building those planes would be without work without contracts from the Air Force. Technology we take for granted today like GPS on our phones is affordable because of Defense Department funded research and development.
So last century
December 07, 2012
In todays world why would Russia or China come after us in planes?
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