Friday Rant: Legislators Insist Upon $485 Million Spend The Pentagon Doesn't Want

The more everything changes, our legislators don't. Bringing home the bacon, despite a devastating national deficit, persists among our elected officials whose only incentive appears to be re-election. Such irresponsible behavior in government, while as old as dirt, cannot be ignored or justified.

The WSJ reported yesterday that a bipartisan push is on to "add $485 million to the defense budget for a fighter jet engine that the Pentagon says it doesn't want". In a thinly guised argument, legislators from both sides of the isle contend that "building two sets of engines for the fighter will create competition and lower costs to the government in the future".

It's no surprise that those who deem themselves wiser and better informed -- and who campaigned against excessive spending -- than those Pentagon officials who are working to defeat the spending, are from districts where the engines would be built. Pork barrel spending will probably never go away. And in a myopic way, the supporters of this spend are in part supporting their local constituents. But the decision process is convoluted by knowing which companies will win the bid if funding is approved.

The legislative process to approve spending ought to be blind when it comes to awarding contracts. In reverse transparency, the decision to fund yet a second engine for an existing defense program cannot possibly be decided on its merits if the bid award is a fore drawn conclusion. The representatives who believe they know more about defense requirements than the Pentagon -- and express an interest in creating competition -- would do well to focus on the overall competiveness of their district's suppliers rather than feeding them with a deficit spoon.

William Busch

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