Before the newly elected 112th Congress is seated, the current 111th still has some unfinished business to complete here in the waning days of 2010. And while these post-election interstitial sessions are pejoratively labeled “lame ducks,” occasionally they can be quite productive. We’d humbly suggest to our federal legislators that putting an end to a $3 billion earmark would be nothing short of a capital idea, so to speak.
As our most recent print advertisement reiterates, a March 2007 Government Accountability Office report suggested that renewed competition to power the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter could save 10-12% at best. And with only $20 billion of the $100 billion program truly open to competition (for reasons we’ve explained in earlier postings), any savings would total $2.0-2.4 billion by 2040.
This number, though seemingly impressive in isolation, pales in comparison to the additional $2.9 billion the Pentagon and White House believe will be needed to get the trouble-prone GE/Rolls-Royce F136 extra engine anywhere near the proven performance of Pratt & Whitney’s F135, which has logged roughly 20,000 test hours, powered every JSF flight and transitioned smoothly into production.
No wonder the woman photographed in the ad has such a shocked expression on her face; spending $3 billion to save $2 billion hardly makes sense in the best of times. For Congress to allow such a wasteful earmark to continue in light of current fragile economic conditions would simply be a dereliction of legislative oversight when it’s needed most. The F136’s potential cost to our nation is simply too high to bear, whether you measure it in squandered dollars, wasteful redundancy or lost jobs to the United Kingdom.
As Democrats and Republicans return to Washington, we urge them to read this ad and take note, not just of the arresting visual, but also the growing coalition supporting Pratt & Whitney. Our partners now include Americans for Tax Reform, Citizens Against Government Waste, Taxpayers for Common Sense, American Conservative Union and the Center for Fiscal Accountability. This broad base supports a common message: Regardless of party or ideological affiliation, stop the tragic waste to buy what the taxpayers can’t afford and the warfighter doesn’t want. Together, we can give you three billion good reasons.