Last week, over the objections of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Obama administration, the House Armed Services Committee restored funding for the basically useless F-22 fighter jet, in the process stripping funding for nuclear waste cleanup efforts. Last night, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) filed an amendment to restore the waste cleanup funds and eliminate the money for the F-22. The move came after months of Republicans issuing dire warnings about the consequences of suspending the F-22 program: Frank Gaffney, for example, declared it would lead to “diminished military capability, emboldening enemies, and alienating our friends.”
On a press call hosted by the Center for American Progress Action Fund this afternoon, Frank pointed out Republicans’ hypocrisy in railing against the deficit while simultaneously funding a $2 billion air force jet that has never once flown a mission in Afghanistan or Iraq. Frank said so-called deficit hawks act as though the Pentagon is funded with “Monopoly money”:
I am of course struck that so many of my colleagues who are so worried about the deficit apparently think the Pentagon is funded with Monopoly money that somehow doesn’t count.
Frank also dismissed concerns that eliminating the F-22 will cost jobs:
These arguments will come from the very people who denied that the economic recovery plan created any jobs. We have a very odd economic philosophy in Washington: It’s called weaponized Keynesianism. It is the view that the government does not create jobs when it funds the building of bridges or important research or retrains workers, but when it builds airplanes that are never going to be used in combat, that is of course economic salvation.
Listen to it:
Indeed, conservatives declare that canceling the F-22 would result in thousands of lost jobs. However, as Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Lawrence Korb pointed out on the call, the administration has also ramped up production of the F-35, which is produced at many of the same facilities — and by the same workers — as the F-22.
Frank called the F-22 fight an important “test” for the Obama administration’s efforts to cut wasteful military spending. “If we cannot hold the line on this, then it’s very bad news for trying to hold down any kind of excesses in military spending,” he said.