D. Dowd Muska


Buck and Rosa’s Infinite ‘Defense’ Spending

November 24, 2011

He’s from Southern California. She’s from New Haven, Connecticut. His district is more than 21,000 square miles, and mostly desert. Her district is 459 square miles, and mostly leafy suburbs. He’s a Reagan Republican. She’s an über-liberal Democrat.

And they’re both to blame for the military-industrial complex’s runaway spending.

Rep. “Buck” McKeon represents the Antelope Valley, where, his taxpayer-funded website boasts, “the aerospace and defense industries play a major role in employment … with a highly skilled labor force of over 20,000 employees.” The story’s the same for Rep. Rosa DeLauro -- Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation’s main plant is based in her fiefdom, as is Pratt & Whitney’s Middletown Engine Center.

Since assuming the chairmanship of the House Armed Services Committee, McKeon has waged a hysterical campaign to protect the Department of Defense’s budget. His rabid rhetoric places the Californian almost beyond caricature. “I will not support initiatives that will leave our military less capable and less ready to fight,” he bellowed in January. “I cannot say it strongly enough. I will not support any measures that stress our forces and jeopardize the lives of our men and women in uniform.”

You won’t hear such drama queenery from DeLauro. While DOD aircraft contracts for employers in her district mean jobs, and thus votes and union support, the 11-term congresswoman counts students and faculty at Yale University as constituents. Quite understandably, she wages a stealthier campaign for Pentagon loot.

Exhibit A is the disastrous F-22. Obsolete, wildly beyond its original budget estimate, and unused in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, it should have been abandoned a decade ago. But when the Obama administration chose to cap the F-22 inventory at 188, DeLauro denounced the decision as “disappointing,” since the fighter was “critical to national security.” (Seventeen months later, she gushed about her success in securing an order for spare engines: “With the cancellation of the F-22 program, I have worked hard to preserve the local manufacturing jobs associated with this program, and with this announcement we are doing just that, maintaining approximately 400 jobs.”)

The F-35 is another DeLauro priority. It’s experiencing a horrid cost overrun and technical glitches -- even John McCain has called the $382 billion program’s performance “truly troubling.” But in July, DeLauro proclaimed her vote to appropriate additional billions for the fighter. The congresswoman also aggressively contested a European corporation’s attempt to land a refueling contract with the Air Force. (The tankers would have been built in Alabama.) This may be a stretch, but DeLauro’s interest in the competition might have something to do with the decision by Boeing, the winning bidder, to purchase Pratt & Whitney engines for the KC-X.

Sikorsky gets plenty of love from DeLauro, too. Last year she signed a letter of “concern” to the DOD regarding its acquisition of Russian helicopters for the Iraqi and Afghan armies. More recently, DeLauro and hopelessly Sinophobic Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) hyped the improbable possibility that the contract for a new fleet of presidential helicopters would be awarded to the government-run China Aviation Industry Corporation. (The Chinese chopper’s engines are made by Pratt & Whitney’s Canadian division. So no votes, campaign cash, or media puff pieces to be had.)

In a 2010 report, the Sustainable Defense Task Force, a group of scholars assembled by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-NC), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), put the Pentagon’s reckless budget in historical perspective. “In 1986,” analysts wrote, “U.S. military spending was only 60 percent as high as that of its adversaries (taken as a group). Today, America spends more than two and one-half times as much as does the group of potential adversary states, including Russia and China. This means that if the United States were to cut its spending in half today, it would still be spending more than its current and potential adversaries -- and the balance would still be twice as favorable as during the Cold War.” (Emphasis in original.)

Forget a cut of 50 percent -- any reduction in DOD expenditures appears unachievable, despite unfathomable federal debt.

“No Labels” nitwits notwithstanding, sainted bipartisanship and noble aisle-crossing contribute to the country’s expensive and unnecessary “defense” infrastructure. Buck and Rosa won’t share a plate of onion rings at Bullfeathers anytime soon. But the kill-‘em-all neoconservative and diaper-dispensing moonbat are more alike than it appears. Each has decided that reelection is more important than the urgent imperatives to restore a noninterventionist foreign policy and fix the federal government’s fiscal crisis.

D. Dowd Muska (www.dowdmuska.com) writes about government, economics, and technology. Follow him on Twitter @dowdmuska.

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