Deficit commission exacerbates civil war in GOP on defense spending

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 12-11-2010-05-2008

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Republicans are all for austerity when it means veterans and seniors tightening their belts. But they don’t like it one bit when it’s the corporations that pay for their re-election or employ people in their own districts. Politico highlights the pending GOP civil war over defense spending as heightened by the catfood commission recommendations.

A proposal to slash 0 billion from the Pentagon budget threatens to spark a civil war within the GOP — pitting hard-core deficit hawks against some members who view military spending as sacrosanct and others who represent districts reliant on defense-related jobs.

The chairmen of President Barack Obama’s bipartisan deficit reduction commission Wednesday proposed cutting several major weapons programs, from the Marine Corps’ Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle to the Navy’s Future Maritime Prepositioning Force.

Some of the cuts will be non-starters. But the proposal exacerbates the tension already roiling Republicans who rode to victory last week on promises of smaller government.

“Peace through strength can’t be accomplished through a waste of money,” Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn told POLITICO earlier this week. “We’re buying stuff we don’t need.”

He’s got Rand Paul with him on that, but not too many others, including teabagger patron saint Sarah Palin, who is all for defense spending. And on the House side, it gets even dicier.

And for Republicans like California Rep. Buck McKeon, who’s poised to become chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, defense spending is all but sacred — especially with U.S. troops still fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan….

At issue is everything from Washington, D.C., Metrorail subsidies for Pentagon employees to how many ships the Navy builds and where. But for some members, including speaker-in-waiting John Boehner, the issue that hits closest to home may be a proposed second engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which would be assembled just outside of his district in southwestern Ohio.

The JSF is the military’s future combat aircraft, and the Pentagon has sunk billions of dollars into the department’s most expensive aircraft acquisition program. But some members of Congress want to split the contract for its engine into two: one engine would be made by Pratt & Whitney, with a second engine built by GE and Rolls Royce.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has called the second engine “costly and unnecessary,” and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has criticized the proposal to build it as just “another bite at the apple” after the Pratt & Whitney proposal won out.

Killing defense programs–particularly on the weapons systems and hardware side–is next to impossible. It took years and years for the cold-war era F-22 to finally die last year when Congress, with the full support of Sec. Gates, ended spending for it. But guess what at least one GOP lawmaker wants to see resurrected. Phil Gingrey wants the plane back, because it was built in his district, of course. Meanwhile, however, he’s “really excited” over the prospect of a “three-year freeze on federal pay and a 10 percent reduction of the federal workforce” in the catfood commission chairs’ proposal.


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