F-22 Too Big to Fail

There’s always a reason not to kill the F-22 project:

Without further spending for the F-22, companies that supply critical components for it would begin shutting down soon. The chairmen and ranking Republicans on both the House and Senate defense appropriations subcommittees recently wrote to Mr. Gates to voice their support for the F-22, cautioning that “the last thing our nation needs is to terminate jobs in this time of such economic uncertainty.”

Like many big weapons systems, the plane, which relies on 1,000 parts suppliers in 44 states, has strong support in Congress, which recently provided up to $140 million in bridge financing for some of the suppliers.

Now it’s true that reducing expenditures on the F-22 purely for the sake of reducing expenditures would not be a good idea at a time when reductions in expenditures aren’t what the economy needs. But holding expenditures constant, it’s still the case that the F-22 is a poor use of resources. There are a lot of things within the Defense Department that would be a better use of that money. And there are things within the civilian side of national security that would be a better use of that money. And there are domestic things that would be a better use of that money.

The financial crisis really does throw worries about the deficit out the window, but it by no means should end worries about relative cost-effectiveness.