Follow the money: The Campaign Contributions Behind the F-35

We know the F-35 is an embarrassingly flawed and absurdly expensive program.

And we also know that members of Congress keep voting over and over to keep the program on taxpayer-funded life support.

And now, from The National Law Review, comes perhaps a little insight into why this keeps happening.

Some highlights from the report [emphasis added]:

  • Current members of Congress (Senate and House of Representatives) have received $8.1 million from Lockheed Martin from January 1, 2001 – December 31, 2013.
  • Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chair of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, has received $74,200 from Lockheed Martin from January 1, 2001 – December 31, 2013, 4.8 times as much as the average for a U.S. Senator ($15,382). His committee originates the annual Senate legislation that funds the F-35 procurement program.
  • Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), Chair of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, has received $66,500 from Lockheed Martin from January 1, 2001 – December 31, 2013, 4.4 times as much as the average for a U.S. Representative ($15,072). His committee originates the annual House legislation that funds the F-35 procurement program.

It’s hard to think of a clearer example of why there is such a dire need for a group to counterbalance such strong big-spending incentives.

Read the rest of the report here.

Shady dealing and improper payments

Reporting in National Review, Dustin Siggins takes on some recent budget news:

Each year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) releases a report on the amount of federal outlays that qualify as “improper payments.” In this year’s report, which shows $105.8 billion in improper payments

Believe it or not, this is an improvement. As Siggins notes, this number has been on the decline since its $121 billion peak in 2010, even though “Washington still spends more in wasted payments than it spends on law and order.”

But there’s more to the story.

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CBO: US deficit levels are unsustainable

In news that shouldn’t need to be clarified, the CBO reported yesterday that out-of-control spending programs, largely entitlements in this case, are pushing US deficit levels to an unsustainable point.

Of particular interest is the fact that (as we know, thanks to the Budget Control Act and sequester that no establishment politicians wanted), deficits are at their lowest point since 2007.

It should be obvious by this point that politicians in both parties simply must make the touch choices necessary to address our growing fiscal crisis.
Read more details from The Hill:

Washington’s failure to contain entitlement spending is biting into the nation’s long-term fiscal outlook, the Congressional Budget Office warned in a Tuesday report that found the nation’s debt would jump to 106 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2039.

. . .

“Debt would be on an upward path relative to the size of the economy, a trend that could not be sustained indefinitely,” the report said.The nonpartisan watchdog said federal debt now held by the public stands at 74 percent of GDP.

Both that figure and the 25-year debt projection are slight increases from the CBO’s previous estimate, first released in September. The CBO found that U.S. debt was 73 percent of GDP in 2013 and predicted that would rise to 102 percent in 2039.

At the same time, the CBO said that, because of a range of policies enacted by President Obama and Congress, plus the general recovery of the economy, the 2014 deficit of 3 percent of GDP would be the lowest since 2007.

The Obama administration projected last week that the 2014 deficit would fall to $583 billion in 2014, or 3.4 percent of GDP, before rising again in the coming years.

Still, the current level of debt held by the public is almost twice what it was in 2008, and matched in U.S. history only by a brief span around World War II.

Rep. Rob Wittman: Put OCO funding in base budget

As you know, the Overseas Contingency Operations slush fund has been desperately in need of reform for quite some time.

And now, it continues to look likely that this year might bring at least some of that reform, as leaders in both parties stand up for responsible budgeting.

DefenseNews reports:

The comments by Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., come a day before the House Armed Services Committee and two days before the House Budget Committee receive testimony from Defense Department officials on the Pentagon’s $58.6 billion 2015 overseas contingency operations (OCO) spending request. Wittman is the chairman of the House Armed Services Readiness subcommittee.

“I still believe decisions are made in a better fashion with a single discussion point and a single budgeting point,” Wittman said at a Defense Writers Group breakfast on Tuesday. “So, I would like to see all the OCO moved back into the baseline budget.” . . .

“The operations that are ongoing right now are all ones that we know, that should be back in the base budget so we can have a continuity of strategy and of proper resourcing so you don’t have these two dialogues that go on,” Wittman said.

Budget analysts have said they estimate more than $30 billion in the OCO budget goes toward costs other than Afghanistan.

Obama requests $3.7 billion for immigration crisis

From Politico this morning:

President Barack Obama asked Congress Tuesday for $3.73 billion in emergency appropriations to address the influx of child migrants crossing the Southwest border and Rio Grande from Central America.

The funding is part of a larger $4.3 billion supplemental budget request from the White House that also includes $615 million to meet the increased costs of battling wildland fires in the West this summer.

Yet again, Congress and the President seem to be poised to spend more money without a thought to the future.

What’s happening on the southern border is a crisis that demands attention, to be sure. Just what type of attention is not our place to say. But what is our place to demand is that new spending be done responsibly, if it must occur.

We’ve seen Congress last year blow through the Budget Control Act, the sequester, and now, be on the brink of blowing through Ryan-Murray’s extremely modest limitations.

It’s time for real accountability. Using other crises to ignore our nation’s spending crisis is an unsustainable plan indeed.


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