Monday, May 24, 2010

MN-02 : Kline Opposes Earmarks But What About Programmatic Requests ?

Today’s Fuzzy Math Problem :
How does President Obama’s $548.9 billion Department of Defense FY2011 Budget become approved as a marked-up budget of $726 billion without “Earmarks ?

Answer : “Programmatic Requests”

John Kline (R-MN-02) of the House Armed Services Committee HASC proudly issued a press release announcing “ the committee’s unanimous approval of H.R. 5136, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY-2011”. The word “earmark was never mentioned … although Mr. Kline did congratulate himself for changes in the “the Yellow Ribbon reintegration law I championed three years ago” … a program that was funded via an “earmark”.

Ignoring “earmarks” is easy … even during a moratorium … just follow the instructions in this GOP memo that redefines what used to be called “earmarks” as Programmatic Requests : “For HASC GOP Member purposes the term “programmatic requests” has no current definition.

The memo goes on to give a specific example : "the second engine for the Joint Strike Fighter, which the committee believes is a national security imperative to reduce the risk inherent in requiring the Air Force, Navy and Marines to fly a common aircraft. This broadly supported action has been included as a matter of policy, and not at the request of a single Member."

Are you familiar with the Joint Strike Fighter second engine ?
It was highlighted on ABC News last week as a $3 Billion Boondoggle and one that was mentioned in the Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) Pork Book earning it last year’s The Little Engine That Couldn’t Award.
CAGW writes about the alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter as having “received $1.2 billion in pork since 2004. The Senate did not include any funds for the alternate engine in its version of the appropriations bill, but the House version prevailed in conference.
On February 1, 2010 at his briefing on the fiscal year 2011 DOD budget, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said, “I’m fully aware of the political pressure to continue building the C-17 and to proceed with an alternate engine for the F-35, so let me be clear. I will strongly recommend that the president veto any legislation that sustains the unnecessary continuation of these two programs.”
On February 25, 2010, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell reiterated DOD’s position on the alternate engine, stating, “this money can clearly be better spent buying capabilities that our warfighters do need. This is a luxury we cannot afford.”

For someone that promotes himself as having the goal of “reducing wasteful pork-barrel spending and restoring order to America’s fractured fiscal house.”, why does Mr. Kline continue to fund a program that even President Bush gave up on ?

If only, the alternate engine was the single “Programmatic Requests” but it’s not.
As CAGW reports for last year’s DOD budget, there were “$6,056,565,000 for 35 anonymous projects. This accounted for only 2 percent of the 1,752 earmarks, but 59 percent of the $10.3 billion cost of the bill, which is more than last year’s 57 percent.

And the C-17 that Secretary Gates referred to was also reviewed by CAWG to the tune of $2.5 Billion for the procurement of ten C–17 aircraft. “In a floor statement on September 30, 2009, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) voiced his opposition to the C-17 funding: “That’s why the Administration ‘strongly objects’ to the addition of $2.5 billion in funding for these ten unrequested C-17 aircraft. The Department of Defense’s (DoD) own analyses shows that the 205 C-17s that the Air Force has or which are on order, together with the existing fleet of C-5 aircraft, are sufficient to meet the Department’s future airlift needs – even under the most stressing situations. So, I am absolutely convinced that we should not be having taxpayers put up $2.5 billion for these aircraft. Doing so not only misallocates procurement funds this year to buy expensive airplanes that are not needed, but it also imposes a continuing sustainment cost of $100 million dollars per year for every year thereafter for their operation.”

Mr. Kline is quite vocal about his opposition to “earmarks but he commonly refers to small-dollar domestic programs … and although we can all agree that “wasteful” spending must be eliminated, yet Mr. Kline fails to highlight the area that he has direct input … Congress’ appetite for military spending … just ask about the $69,880,000 for 22 projects “earmarked”by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) … and when Mr. Kline was asked about his support for Mr. Bishop’s F-22 “earmark”, Mr. Kline said it was good for jobs.

I hope that Dan Powers, the DFL endorsed candidate, takes a hard look at Defense spending. Mr. Kline will no doubt claim his military experience provides him with greater insight, yet Mr. Kline is addicted to military spending … while America is fighting ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Kline’s HASC wants to raise the 286-ship fleet to 313 ships including funding for two SSN 774 Virginia-class submarines — the first time the committee has authorized two ships in one year – and $3 billion to fully fund two DDG 51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and support the restart of construction of the class.
With al Qaeda and the Taliban seeming to be headquartered in caves, why does Mr. Kline want to spend so much on ships ?

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