Friday, October 13, 2006

Have the porkbusters gone too far?

Bob Novak's latest column displays a clear sign that the porkbusters are going way too far.

Apaprently, the final version of the defense appropriations bill contains earmarks for 10 more C-17s for FY2007 and up to 60 F-22s over the next three years.

These earmarks have John McCain, John Warner, and Tom Coburn throwing hissy fits.

Well, in this case, they are wrong - and their efforts are, quite frankly, one reason why I was against this anti-pork crusade. It had the potential to go too far, and in denying new cargo planes and fighters to the Air Force, it is placing national security at risk - especially if the C-17 production line closes.

The C-17 replaced the old C-141 cargo plane. However, we also have 77 C-5s built from 1968-1973 that are getting up there in years. Those might need to be replaced, much the way the C-130E is in need of replacement (and earmarks for new C-130Js got called pork, too). Another pressing priority is replacing 157 KC-135Es (and hopefully, all of the KC-135s, which were first purchased in 1954, with the last being bought in 1965).

The F-15 is also old - having been in service for three decades. Yes, it is still a good plane, but it is outclassed by the Eurofighter and Rafale, and the Su-27 family is very close. The F-22, on the other hand, assures dominance of the air for years to come. Our fighter pilots will have a better chance with the Raptor, and it needs to be bought - preferably in number to allow it to replace the F-15 on a one-for-one basis. It is already proving its ability to take on multiple opponents and win.

The porkbusters are being penny-wise, but extremely foolish. Shutting down a production line can be a very permanent thing. The workers will retire, or move on to other work. The equipment will be re-used, possibly even destroyed (as was the case with the MD-11 tooling). Senators McCain, Warner, and Coburn need to back off on this fight for the good of the country.

There is pork in the federal budget, but the C-17 and F-22 are not oinkers. If anything, I wish whoever inserted those provisions had earmarked funds for building more of them.

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