The Roanoke Times, June 13:
Fiscal responsibility goes out the windowCongressman Cantor, in response, this morning:
The new GOP looks a lot like the old GOP. Just ask Cantor himself, who recently led the push to keep $485 million in the latest defense appropriation bill to pay for an alternate engine program for the next generation of advanced jet fighters.
Lockheed Martin, the defense giant that won the contract for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, decided to use an engine made by Pratt & Whitney. That decision was approved by the Pentagon.
But GE and Rolls Royce want to build an alternate engine for use in the jet, at a cost of at least $485 million.
Rolls Royce just opened a new headquarters in Virginia and is building a factory in Prince George County.
So Cantor abandoned any pretense of fiscal responsibility and pushed the appropriation for an engine neither the jet's builder nor the Pentagon believe is necessary. [link]
Find cuts to pay for spendingGood argument. If one ignores the fact that the the United States military has no intention of using the 485 million dollar engine.
[jf: After a whole mess of weasel words, obfuscations, and distractions that are, frankly, beneath him ...]
Recently, The Roanoke Times questioned whether my support for an alternative engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was necessary ("Fiscal responsibility goes out the window," June 13 editorial). After much research, I became convinced that there is a compelling national security and economic case to be made in favor of the alternate F-35.
Military procurement competition, particularly in the development of engines, has produced a wide range of savings and improvements in quality over the years -- and I have no doubt that the trend will continue in the future. Simply put, I believe that market competition will not only produce a better product for our military, but actually save money over time.
In fact, the Government Accountability Office reached the same conclusion. It estimated that F-35 engine competition may produce sufficient savings over the fighter's lifetime to offset the cost of developing an alternate engine. The GAO and the Armed Services Committee have also cited benefits such as enhanced operational readiness, superior engine performance, better engine reliability, improved responsiveness from contractors and the maintenance of a healthy industrial base.
Without the funding, we will be straitjacketed with only one engine for a plane that will comprise a whopping 90 percent of our fighters in 2035. This means that if the engine fails in the future, the vast majority of our fleet would be grounded until the problem was fixed or an alternative was found.
The question becomes whether the project is worth a $485 million investment. I believe it is ... [link]
Cantor's argument, at its crux: "We will be straitjacketed with only one engine for a plane" that has use of only one engine.
I was hoping, when I began reading Mr. Cantor's explanation for his support of a powerful constituent, that he would cite a military study that bolstered his argument. In using the GAO, the accounting arm of the government, he disappoints in the extreme. One look at the Defense budget will tell the curious that we are willing to spend whatever it takes to defend this country of ours. Defense is not a matter of accounting. It's life and death. Our lives or our deaths. And if the military - which admittedly is a political animal as well - has decided that a competitor makes a more utilitarian engine for its fighters, then the discussion ends there.
Rolls Royce will continue to develop its engine. As it should. On Rolls Royce's dime. We don't need to be paying for its research and development. Especially if Air Force experts have determined that the company offers an inferior product at present.
Mr. Cantor needs to rethink this. Constituent services are one thing. Misguided government largesse and wasting taxpayer dollars are another. He's supposed to be one of us. Consistently.