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The Conditions for Cuts in Defense Spending

Gordon Adams, the former head defense analyst for the Office of Management and Budget, has an interesting post on the end of the F-22 and the general theory behind cutting defense programs. The F-22's demises, he says, followed a very predictable pattern. "For a major program to emerge, thrive, and survive, it takes basically three players: the service that wants and will advocate for the program, a contractor for whom the program is major business, and members of Congress who either sit on the key committees that decide on the program or represent the district or state where the program, or parts of it, are made."

If any of those players fall out of line, the project's future falls into doubt. In this case, the Obama administration came out against the F-22, and then Lockheed-Martin, perhaps because it has enough contracts with the Defense Department that it doesn't want to upset its patrons, announced that it wouldn't lobby particularly hard for the plane. Adams compares the result to a "one-and-a-half legged stool," and notes that such a thing isn't very sturdy. And sure enough, Jack Murtha, the powerful House member who treats defense-related pork as other men treat religion, gave up yesterday.

By Ezra Klein  |  July 23, 2009; 5:05 PM ET
Categories:  Budget  
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Another key factor, I think, is that the F-35 program will be starting in 2011, and it uses the same Pratt engines, so it will likely end up being only a temporary loss of business. If Congress was just ending a program and replacing it with nothing, it might have been harder to get Lockheed Martin, Obama or Murtha on board.

Posted by: smhjr1 | July 23, 2009 6:41 PM | Report abuse

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