Who Says We Need More C-17s...Oh Yeah, Congressional Missourians Do
by Gary Therkildsen*, 5/26/2010
As Congress gears up for its annual budget process, parochial-minded members are drawing their customary battle lines around administration-targeted programs. One of those is the C-17 transport plane, which the Pentagon has been trying to kill for several years because it deems the military to have ample airlift capacity. Last week, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch highlighted a press conference held by four congressional Missourians who, claiming to know better than the Pentagon, declared that they were going to fight the plane's proposed cancellation.
According to the Post-Dispatch's Bill Lambrecht, the press conference was something to behold for those looking for bipartisanship on Capitol Hill.
The four members – Sens. Kit Bond (R-MO) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Reps. Todd Akin (R-MO) and Russ Carnahan (D-MO) – first praised the Navy's recent decision to pursue a multi-year contract for up to 124 F/A-18 Super Hornets. The Boeing Co. produces the Super Hornet in St. Louis, and, as Lambrecht notes, "the agreement avoids the yearly scrap for appropriations and gives security to thousands of St. Louisans who work on the line."
Not satisfied with the defense contracting jobs obtained through the Navy contract, though, the foursome also declared a coordination of "efforts on behalf of Boeing Co. aircraft" throughout the country. One of the planes that the members specifically picked out for love and support was the C-17 Globemaster III.
But the Pentagon has been saying for several years now that the military's airlift capability is more than adequate and that the purchase of additional C-17s is unneeded and wasteful. With notions of fiscal responsibility ringing through the halls of Congress, the purchase of additional C-17s is at the very least hypocritical and at worst is spending limited resources on things we don't need.
Before his recent speech on the gusher that is defense spending at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told reporters:
One of the members of Congress, I'm told, said, 'Well, why is $3 billion for the alternative engine such a big deal when we've got a trillion-dollar deficit?' I would submit that's one of the reasons we have a trillion-dollar deficit, is that kind of thinking.
The C-17 is no different.
Image by Flickr user TMWolf used under a Creative Commons license.