For the President to offer a veto threat, which to my recollection is the first veto threat of his Presidency, over ending the military-industrial complex gravy train is pretty significant. If we don't take the first step and restore the ability to end weapons systems, then the military budget will just grow and grow. Most politicians already consider it magic and unrelated to any other spending, even while they scold about "runaway budget deficits" in the same breath. The jobs argument attempted here is bogus, "weaponized Keynesianism", as Barney Frank called it. Building bridges and roads and a smart energy grid were the kinds of job-creating engines that all the fiscal scolds considered too expensive during the stimulus fight, but suddenly when defense is on the menu, they're all "jobs, baby, jobs." Those Blue Dogs who scream about budgets can now tell everyone why we can afford a plane that the Air Force doesn't need and the manufacturer doesn't even want to make.
The President's taking a small risk here. I can already hear the resurrection of Zell Miller demagoguing in 2012 about "what are we gonna use, spitballs?" But this represents the setting of a marker, one of the first I can remember, that our military budget is not sustainable, and as a first step we have to be able to wind down Cold War-era weapons systems that are completely inapplicable to the present day. Not many people have allowed themselves to publicly make this argument. So it deserves some credit. [my em]
We don't need the F-22 "air superiority fighter". We already have air superiority. No one can field an air force against ours and expect it to survive. It's that simple; we own the air, period. The Air Force doesn't need, or want, the plane. We don't need an extra engine for the F-35 "joint strike fighter" - a program designed to keep development and maintenance costs lower. It's all about bringing pork back to home districts. Cutting costs is fine when it comes to health care and other parts of the social safety net, but heaven forbid you deny the Congress their toys. The wing wipers don't want the planes but Congress says they're necessary? I tend to think the AF knows what they want and need more than some blowhards on the Hill.
Digby is correct. We are still fighting the Cold War instead of adapting to the threats we're facing now. We certainly ain't winning in Afghanistan and Iraq is still an ungodly mess; what have we to show for our technical prowess and air superiority? We have enough to turn both places into smoking holes in the ground, yet we're holding on with our fingernails in Afghanistan and they're still blowing up innocents in Baghdad. We're hundreds of years ahead of these people technologically and we've wasted the better part of a decade trying to get the upper hand.
I'm glad the President sees the waste and hand it to him for standing up to the entrenched interests in Congress. In a time when we need every dime we can scrape together, wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on a weapons system no one wants is criminal.