How Many Hornets Do Minnesota Taxpayers Want ?

As the Minnesota legislative session was coming to an end, there were a number of soul-searching votes that we entrusted our elected officials to make. We hope they vote in “our” interest and not just following party leaders’ instructions.

Reviewing those votes, I was struck by an authorization that was easily approved by the Minnesota Senate, but did get some “No” votes in the House … it was the type of programs that the DFL members would generally support as 24 counties would receive funding. I contacted one of the “No” votes and asked “why?” … especially since both MN-GOP endorsed candidate Tom Emmer and DFL endorsed candidate Margaret Anderson Kelliher voted in favor.

I voted no, sadly, because we don’t have the money. We are cutting all kinds of things” and he concluded “but without finding revenue to pay for increased spending I could not vote for it.”

The response may have been different if Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) had been receptive to tax proposals that would have paid for it … instead Governor Deadbeat (aka Governor Veto) dictated the terms that pushed the problems out to the next governor through delays in school payments and corporate sales tax refunds.

Instead of being disappointed in the Representative’s vote, he gained my respect for making a tough choice. Minnesotans want legislators that spend our monies wisely … and if Governor Veto won’t allow tax increases it forces cuts to desirable programs. His words were apt … “sadly”.

That same philosophy should be true in Congress.

John Kline (R-MN-02) preaches about evils of “earmarks” … but now by renaming them programmatic requests”, Republicans have found a way to keep spending.

The $693 billion that will be spent on the Pentagon this year more than doubles what we spent in 2002. The ramnifacations of Global War on Terror aside, Congress needs to make hard choices on how Congress spends our monies.

Should they listen to the Pentagon’s analysis or listen to the lobbyists representing the military industrial complex ?

The Navy’s fiscal 2011 budget request, sent to Congress Feb. 1, includes $1.9 billion to buy 22 Super Hornets. However, based on a “programmatic requests” amendment to the budget by Todd Akin (R-MO), whose district is near Boeing’s defense headquarters in St. Louis, the approved budget includes 30 F/A-18 E and F Super Hornet strike fighters.
Simply stated the committee added eight additional Super Hornets. Previously, Congress added nine aircraft to the fiscal 2010 budget … that’s seventeen in two years.

Why would John Kline … a supposed fiscally responsible military man override the Department of Defense request and vote for the additional Hornets?
Well, I trust that that Boeing being #5 on Mr. Kline’s Freedom and Security PAC did not have any impact … but this needs to be explained.

Sadly, the extra Hornets are likely to be included in the final budget.
The extra Hornets are not getting the publicity as the alternative engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft is getting.

Mr. Kline’s House Armed Services Committee (HASC) has also included$485 million for the F-35 competitive engine program, including funds authorized by the Subcommittee on Seapower and Expeditionary Forces.”

The background is that Pratt & Whitney is building engines for the F-35, but General Electric, who is dominate in the industry, wants to build an alternative engine. This budget fight has been going on for a long time. A Pentagon study found that bringing the second engine to completion would cost nearly $3 billion. Simple stated, the Pentagon doesn’t want it. Last year, the Senate did not approve funding for the alternate engine in their bill, but the House prevailed in the conference … so funding was authorized against the Pentagon’s wishes.

Yesterday was a big day on the alternate engine debate.
Early in the day, the Senate Armed Services Committee decided to leave out additional funding for a secondary F-35 Joint Strike Fighter engine.
Meanwhile, the House debated an amendment to strip the funding.
Congresswoman Chellie M. Pingree (D-ME-01) statement has merits : “This provision represents businesses as usual in Washington for providing funds for an engine that’s already being built and already being built well.
There is no need to devote our precious Federal dollars to a wasteful alternative engine program at this time when Americans are struggling to find jobs to pay their medical bills and to put food on the table. Every defense bill that we spend wisely contributes to our national security, and every defense dollar that we waste hampers our economic security
.”

Thus, it should be an easy question for fiscal conservatives.
My yardstick is Congressman Jeff Flake (R-AZ) … his vote will tell if it’s “wasteful government spending” or a true element of our nation’s defense. Congressman Flake voted against this authorization … as did Minnesotans Tim Walz (D-01), Erik Paulsen (R-03), Keith Ellison (D-04), Betty McCollum (D-05), Colin Peterson (D-07) and Jim Oberstar (D-08) …. BUT voting to keep wasting taxpayer’s monies were John Kline (R-02) and Michele Bachmann (R-06). WHY ? Sadly, the vote failed because Republicans voted 116 to 57 to support the military industrial complex and add on to our national debt.

With the loud cries from the TaxEnoughAlready folks … aka the Tea Party … how can Mr. Kline and Ms. Bachmann justify their votes ?
Well, my own theory is that if the national debt increases during the Obama years, it can be blamed on Healthcare Reform legislation and no one will notice how Republicans contributed to increase.
If GE wants to build an engine, let them do it on their product development dollars … not at taxpayer’s expense.

Voters in the Second and Sixth Districts should ask the DFL-endorsed candidates Dan Powers and Tarryl Clark who they will listen to … the Pentagon, the military industrial complex, or the taxpayers?
Minnesotans want legislators that will vote in “our” interest.
Further, Minnesotans want legislators that spend our monies wisely, and by this vote Mr. Kline and Ms. Bachmann have proven that they are faux-fiscal conservatives.

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