Thursday, February 17, 2011

In Which the Tea Partyers Actually Cut Some Wasteful Spending

Even though the F-35 fighter plane is many billions over budget, Congress has been insisting for the past five years that we keep not one but two different engines in development to power it. This foible, opposed by the Pentagon, has cost more than $2 billion already and is projected to cost $3 billion more. Pratt & Whitney, which makes the primary engine, has put ads all over Washington decrying this waste; General Electric, which makes the alternative, has followed a low-profile approach, relying on an alliance of Republicans who support all defense spending and midwestern Democrats who wants the jobs for their states to keep the engine in the budget. In the 2010 election most of those midwestern Democrats were swept out, replaced with Tea Party-leaning Republicans pledged to cut wasteful spending. And, glory be, they actually stepped up yesterday and joined with liberal Democrats to cut the engine out of the budget. Of course this is not the end of the story, and it remains possible that the engine will be re-inserted into the budget in some future negotiation, but I regard this as a positive sign. I think most of the waste in the federal budget is in the Defense and Homeland Security Departments, and if the Tea Party faction is willing to take its ax to those programs, all power to them.

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