By Rick Amato,
When Congress convenes to figure out funding for the Pentagon for next year, it would be wise to show some competence in funding decisions and one way is to defund outlaw projects. It just makes sense for the government to stop providing taxpayer money for projects that break the law. It is against the law to use specialty metals or alloys from China, North Korea, Russia, and Iran, yet one company’s project has violated that law and seeks to continue a relationship with the Pentagon.
Congress passed a continuing resolution to keep the government funded into a lame-duck session in December. This means that funding decisions have been pushed to late November and early December. Some tough decisions will be made on what to fund going into the next year. Considering the massive budget deficit our nation is carrying, it is time to find ways to save some taxpayer money.Excluding projects from government contracting that have violated U.S. law makes common sense and can save some cash. This promotes good governance while sending a message to other companies that they should be more careful when procuring parts and metals for aircraft and other military infrastructure. It would seem like the appropriate remedy for violating that law to cease a project, yet that has not happened yet.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program (JSF) is the offending project that was found to have broken U.S. law. Politico reported on September 7, 2022, “The Pentagon has temporarily halted delivery of F-35 fighter jets to the military branches and international customers after Lockheed Martin discovered a metal component used in the jet’s engine had come from China, according to the Pentagon.” It is against the law to use components from a list of nations that includes China. It makes sense to put the brakes on this program to restore some trust with the American people that the Pentagon is being very careful when spending on contractors.
In the next few years, the federal government is expected to pile more debt on the American people, therefore taxpayers are going to want to see evidence that oversight on spending is comprehensive. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts a deficit of about $1 trillion for this year and another trillion in the next. The projected deficit for the next ten years 2023-32 according to CBO is about $16 trillion. That is a staggering sum of money that we don’t have and shows that some in government have not been careful in spending taxpayer cash.
The F-35 JSF program is an expensive one. Bloomberg reported on April 25, 2022, that the program’s “total projected cost for now is $1.7 trillion, which includes $1.3 trillion in estimated operations and sustainment over 66 years.” That is a staggering sum of money for a program that has been plagued by cost overruns, slow deployment, design flaws, and a big violation of the law. Massive savings should be found using this bloated program as a way to save the taxpayers from funding a program that clearly has too many resources dedicated to the development of the F-35 fighter jets.
It is important to fund the core functions of government. Defense funding is one of those areas needing an increase in resources to protect Americans from emerging threats from a more aggressive China and Russia. Russia has recently threatened the use of nuclear weapons, putting missile defense funding back in focus. China has been taking aggressive actions toward Taiwan over the past few months and many worry that an invasion is imminent. A strong defense budget will help provide some deterrence to both Russia and China from taking actions that would spur an American response. This program is merely one that should be used to find savings.
Congress has rightly pushed for an increase in defense spending. The House Appropriations Committee proposed “$761.681 billion in discretionary spending, an increase of $33.207 billion above 2022. It is in line with President Biden’s budget request, a funding level endorsed by the Secretary of Defense.” With this increase in funding, the American people are going to want Congress to be more careful in spending.
With our country carrying massive debt and the competence of our leaders called into question, it would make sense for the Pentagon to target the F-35 JSF program to make sure that no company wastes taxpayer dollars on aircraft containing illegally purchased parts or metals. Confidence in our leaders who are spending record amounts of borrowed cash is essential in this time of high inflation and less money for citizens to spend on what they need.
Rick Amato, is a former financial adviser for Merrill Lynch and founded the Amato Wealth Management Group. He is currently the host of Politics And Profits with Rick Amato. Find out more at YourAmericaTV.comTags: Commentary