The current debate in Washington over spending, the budget deficit and the national debt is long overdue. The current budget deficit is well over $1 trillion. To put that in some perspective, if you spent $1 million per day from the day Jesus was born-until today you still would not reach the trillion dollar mark. The deficit is completely out of control.
That deficit leads to a national debt that now exceeds $14 trillion.
The national debt goes up $4 billion per day! The phrase “national debt” should really be called the “Future Generations of Americans Debt”; Congress continues to dig an enormous financial hole for our children and grandchildren.
A classic example of wasteful spending which has led to the ballooning federal debt is the alternative engine program for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Let me say up front —I believe the first responsibility of the federal government is to provide a strong national defense. I have sat in the F-35, I have even flown the same flight simulator used by pilots to learn how to fly the F-35. It is an amazing machine that will strengthen our national defense capabilities. Therefore, I have no quarrel with funding the production of the F-35.
What I do have a problem with is funding for a program to produce a “back up” GE-Rolls Royce engine for the F-35. Congress has funded the alternative engine program, or F136, for 14 years.
Despite opposition from the Department of Defense under the Bush and Obama Administrations, Congress used earmarks to provide $1.3 billion in unrequested funding to continue development of the F136 program.
It is estimated that the program will require an additional $3 billion over the next 6 years.
The benefits of developing a second engine for the F-35 are questionable at best — especially in these difficult economic times. We have used a single engine manufacturer in the past for the F-22 as an example.
If we are going to get serious about eliminating the deficit and reducing the national debt, Congress must end wasteful earmarks in the budget.
Let’s start by saving $3 billion by ending the alternative engine program for the F-35.
— Jeff Kottkamp is the former lieutenant governor of the state of Florida