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‘Future generations’ budget deficit must be addressed

March 29, 2011
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


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