Against the F-22

There was a good editorial over the weekend in the NYT slamming a House panel for trying to un-kill the unnecessary and too-expensive F-22.

I think the whole controversy highlights the need for a reform that goes beyond the specifics of any particular weapons system, however, namely the need to start structuring debates over defense spending so as to clarify that the money spent on the Pentagon is real money. Right now in political terms, it’s treated like Monopoly money. “Fiscally conservative” Blue Dogs don’t complain about defense spending. Conservative economists talk about “non-defense discretionary spending.” It’s as if—by magic—the federal government’s largest program isn’t a real program, or doesn’t cost money. In that framework, of course no weapons platform ever looks unnecessary.