Friday, December 17, 2010

The Joint Strike Fighter Alternative Engine Program is Running In the Red - The GE/ROLLS ROYCE Ad Campaign Implicates Incoming Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon - Are Republicans Restoring Bad Ethics to the House?

In the National Defense Authorization Act of 2010, Public Law 111-84, provision is made for the Joint Strike Fighter Alternative Engine Program. Specifically Title II § 217 authorizes [s]eparate procurement and research, development, test, and evaluation line items and program elements for the F-35B and F-35C joint strike fighter aircraft.

The Note to 10 U.S.C. 221 speaks to the Joint Strike Fighter Alternative Engine Program. It says; "In the budget materials submitted to the President by the Secretary of Defense in connection with the submission to Congress, pursuant to section 1105 of title 31, United States Code, of the budget for fiscal year 2011, and each subsequent fiscal year, the Secretary shall ensure that within the Navy research, development, test, and evaluation account and the Navy aircraft procurement account, a separate, dedicated line item and program element is assigned to each of the F-35B aircraft and the F-35C aircraft, to the extent that such accounts include funding for each such aircraft.

That takes us to the line item in the budget for the Joint Fighter Alternative Engine Program. Lines 006 and 007 for the program show that, in thousands of dollars, the FY 2010 Request for line 006, the Joint Strike Fighter Program was $3,997,048 times $1000 for a final figure of $3,997,048,000. That's just a shade under $4 billion. The next figure is the same, it is the amount agreed upon in the Conference Agreement, nearly $4 Billion.

006 Joint Strike Fighter ...........................................$3,997,048.... $3,997,048
007 Advance Procurement .........................................$481,000.......$481,000

Line 007 shows the Advance Procurement in thousands of dollars for the 2010 Calendar Year (CY). So what looks, at first glance, to be a half a million dollars is actually $4.8 million for 2010.

Skip to line item 127 and try and follow the government's accounting. The FY2010 request on line 127, in thousands of dollars, is $1,741,296 or after the multiplier $1,741,296,000. That's $1.7 billion. What the Conference Agreed on was $1,956,296 times $1,000 or $1,956,296,000 or nearly $2 billion. In the line item below the number 0604800N refers to the program element within the budget. Bracketed numbers such as the [$215,000] usually indicate negative numbers. In this case the $215,000 times $1,000 equals $215,000,000 or $215 million by which Congress exceeded the President's request.

127 0604200N Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)....................$1,741,296...$1,956,296
       F136 Development .............................................$[215,000]...$[215,000]

Go back to line 84 and you'll see how this escalates.

084 0604800F Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).....................$1,858,055...$2,073,055
       F136 Development .............................................$[215,000]...$[215,000]

The FY 2010 request for program element 0604800F was $1,858,055 timed $1,000 or $1,858,055,000 that's $1.8 billion. What the Conference Agreed to was $2,073,055 times $1,000 or $2,073,055,000 which is more than $2 billion. The bracketed amount represents the $215,000,000 more than the President requested.

But do these figures add up? The overall authorization was for $3,997,048,000. $3,997,048,000 minus the funds for Program Element 0604800N or $1,956,296,000 equals $2,040,752,000. There's $2,040,752,000 left in the budget for the Joint Strike Fighter Program. Yet the amount budgeted on line 084 is $2,073,055,000. $2,040,752,000 minus $2,073,055,000 equals -$32,303,000.

This program is starting off $32 million dollars in the hole! If Congress had kept with the President's request then $430 million would not have been available. The question is whether Congress would have overrun the budget by the additional $400 million, as they have, or would they have pared spending to conform to the budget?

It is not an idle question. Before the National Defense Authorization Act of 2010 became Public Law 111-84 it was first introduced into the House as H.R. 5136. Maine's Democratic Representative Chellie Pingree introduced House Amendment 661 to H.R. 5136. That Amendment sought to eliminate funding for the Joint Strike Fighter's Alternative Engine Program. This is what she had to say about her Amendment on the floor of the House:

"Ms. PINGREE of Maine. Mr. Chairman, this amendment prohibits any further funding for the alternate F-35 engine.

In 2001, Pratt & Whitney won the award for the primary engine for the Joint Strike Fighter through a competitive bidding process. This process was set up to save millions in taxpayer dollars. Since then, Congress has authorized an astonishing $1.3 billion of unrequested funds for the development of this extra unnecessary engine. The Bush administration opposed this program. The Obama administration opposes this program. And yet if this amendment fails today, we will continue to fund a defense program that is a complete waste of money.

I could not put it any better than the Secretary of Defense put it himself: Given the many pressing needs facing our military and the fiscal challenges facing our country, we cannot afford a ``business as usual'' approach to the defense budget. Tough choices must be made by both the Department and Congress to ensure that current and future military capabilities can be sustained over time. This means programs and initiatives of marginal or no benefit, like the F136 engine, are unaffordable luxuries."
House Amendment 661 to H.R. 5136 failed by a vote of 193 in favor of the Amendment to 231 opposed, with 3 Members not voting. That was Roll Call 316 on May 27, 2010. There were no party line divisions on this vote. The inertial weight of the lobbying power of the Military Industrial Complex held the majority of Members and prevailed. The next Chairman of the House Committee on Armed Services voted against the Pingree Amendment.

This debate is not over. The partnership between General Electric and Rolls Royce is advertising their product for the Joint Strike Fighter Alternative Engine Program. They claim they can save the American Taxpayers $20 billion and reduce the national deficit. We are already over budget and going backwards on a program once decided and awarded. If you're going to save the taxpayers $20 billion don't you have to get back to zero first?

You can read the GE/Rolls Royce AD-STRAVAGANZA at You will want to pay attention to the Tweets directed to incoming Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, [R - CA] in the advertising. McKeon is firmly planted in the camp advocating the Joint Strike Fighter Alternative Engine Program.  He's also known for speaking out of the other side of his mouth pandering to the notion of limited government with less spending.  Let's see if we give billionaires a FAT CAT TAX BOONDOGGLE and waste money on the Joint Strike Fighter Alternative Engine Program, which the Pentagon didn't want, then from where will the less spending of the limited government come?  Watch out Social Security!

That seems at least to reflect an appearance of impropriety if not a downright disqualifier. Nancy Pelosi worked to drain the swamp, with costly results to Democrats with Seniority. John Boehner and his team look like they are about to fill the swamp again. It seems as though the Republicans don't realize that their former Majority Leader, Tom DeLay, is facing what amounts to a life sentence for his shenanigans.

DeLay faces a sentence of five years to 99 years in prison for a Texas money- laundering conviction and a two year to 20 years sentence for a conspiracy count as well, plus fines. He is free on bond until his sentencing in a Texas state court on Dec 20. DeLay plans an appeal. DeLay turns 64 next April. 

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