Everywhere we look government is trying to find ways to limit spending, and find ways to save money.
Recently Madison Mayor Paul Soglin asked departments to plan on formulating budgets to save dollars. State legislators have undertaken controversial policy ideas to help the bottom line for taxpayers. Congressional cries about budget deficits, and the need to rein in spending seem to be on a repeating loop in news interviews.
I mention all this so to underscore that we are told everyday how government must be more fiscally responsible. Which is why I had to smirk at a story this weekend concerning a navy project at Marinette.
At issue is the littoral combat ship, which is built in Marinette, Wisconsin and Mobile, Alabama. Obama (and the Defense Department) has proposed cutting a scheduled order of four littoral combat ships during the 2015 fiscal year to three of the ships. Doing so would mean that one of the cities would lose a ship order for that year.
It should also be noted that Defense Secretary Hagel has already ordered a review of the ship’s firepower and ability to withstand enemy attack.
In addition the costs ballooned for this program from a projected $220 million per ship in fiscal year 2006 to $480 million per ship in fiscal year 2010. Is it just me or does it make no fiscal sense for several hundred million dollars to be spent in this fashion before the Navy settles on a long-term plan regarding the program?
Should the ship not be constructed at the same number would mean that perhaps 2,000 jobs at Marinette would in some way be impacted, as they are tied to the program. As such, the state congressional delegation has rallied around a project the Defense Department has voiced concerns about, and as a result requested a reduction in spending for the program.
Consider all the times that congressional bipartisanship would actually be important in Washington. But no, it takes the wasteful use of national resources to finally bring our state delegation in line with the professional working relationship many want them to have all year long.
I understand the political call on this one. I get what Speaker Tip O’Neill meant when he stated “all politics is local”.
But we send our representatives to Washington to be leaders and take positions that are in the best interest of the nation, even if we are not the direct beneficiaries of the decision on the local end.
There is never going to be a time to pare down defense spending–even on questionable projects–if we are never going to accept the fact that it will put some people out of work. It is clear from this episode that we are far from being serious about fiscal responsibility, and that our congressional delegation is not forward-thinking.