Apr 2011 11

by Keith Daniels

Even if you actively ignore all news about politics, your panicky uncle probably mentioned something on Facebook about the potential for the federal government to shut down last week over budget disagreements between House Republicans and Democrats. Crisis has been averted, temporarily, but the budget battle touched core issues for both sides and so it’s doubtful we’ve seen the end of it.

Republicans want to de-fund Planned Parenthood, National Public Radio, and the agency that is charged with the protection of the environment of the only planet on which we live. They’ve basically become comic book super-villains. Democrats, to their credit, actually had the gonads to refuse to budge when it came to protecting women’s access to reproductive care and the health of the, y’know, planet. Republicans won deep spending cuts across the board, but the Democrats held on those few core issues – for now. I know. I’m shocked too.

[Dominick in Tank Rider]

Last year National Public Radio received $428 million in federal funding, which sounds like a lot until you consider that that’s one one-hundredth of one percent of the entire federal budget. I spend about the same percentage of my yearly budget on the ice scraper I buy every December when I can’t find the one I bought last winter.

We thought the Republicans were just being vindictive about NPR’s traditional “liberal” coverage – “liberal” in this sense meaning “has some basis in reality.” – but it turns out the government really needs the money for more important projects.

According to the government’s own figures, each Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft costs $207.6 million. The US government plans to order 32 of them this year. $207.6 million is actually low-balling it, considering that defense industry analysts claim that each fighter actually costs $304.15 million if you factor in research and development costs. The F-35 is the most expensive defense program in history. The Government Accountability Office estimates that acquiring and then operating the proposed fleet of F-35s will cost $1 trillion.

The Atlantic notes that, by comparison, the GDP of the entire nation of Australia is $924 billion.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2010 budget was $10.4 billion, which was, thanks to the Obama Administration, actually a 34% increase from the year before.

The F-35 fills the role left by the F-22 Raptor, which has been essentially cancelled after orders were frozen at 183 aircraft. The F-22 program has cost $62 billion. Each aircraft represents a total cost of $361 million.

Then there are the three new Gerald R. Ford-Class supercarriers:

The Navy’s estimated cost to build three Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers rose $5.4 billion, or 15.5 percent, since September 2008, according to a new Defense Department report. Built at Northrop Grumman Corp’s Newport News shipyard, the three carriers now will cost a combined $40.5 billion, up from $35.1 billion in 2008, the report said.

Even the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates himself has questioned whether the US spends too much on defense:

“Consider the massive overmatch the U.S. already enjoys. Consider, too, the growing anti-ship capabilities of adversaries,” Gates said. “Do we really need 11 carrier strike groups for another 30 years when no other country has more than one? Any future plans must address these realities.”

Meanwhile, the highest appraisals for the cost of true “universal health care” for the U.S. put the figure at around $1.5 trillion…



  1. […] than 30,000 people are fasting to stop the Republicans pulling a fast one, with budget proposals that would cut funds for vital programs and services, while giving corporations and the super wealthy even more tax relief than they already […]