One of the realizations that helped me to dispense of the neoconish foreign policy views of my youth is that for federal policymakers, the Pentagon is like a giant jobs program. Regardless of need, a military installation or armament factory can generally count on the unwavering support of the member of Congress who represents the district or state where the facility is located.
On Monday, the Associated Press’s Richard Lardner provided a textbook example: over the past two years Congress has spent almost a half billion taxpayer dollars—and wants to spend another $436 million—upgrading Abrams tanks that experts and the Army itself say aren’t needed.
Who are some of the biggest congressional backers of the tank upgrading? Why, Republican “deficit hawks”!
Keeping the Abrams production line rolling protects businesses and good paying jobs in congressional districts where the tank’s many suppliers are located.
If there’s a home of the Abrams, it’s politically important Ohio. The nation’s only tank plant is in Lima. So it’s no coincidence that the champions for more tanks are Rep. Jim Jordan and Sen. Rob Portman, two of Capitol’s Hill most prominent deficit hawks, as well as Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. They said their support is rooted in protecting national security, not in pork-barrel politics.
“The one area where we are supposed to spend taxpayer money is in defense of the country,” said Jordan, whose district in the northwest part of the state includes the tank plant.
Ah, yes, the “national security” excuse—probably the most cited justification by politicians to spend other people’s money since the ink dried on the Constitution.