The Buck Stops
Largely unnoticed in the Republican bluster about cutting the federal budget was a vague promise to trim the Defense budget too. This should have provoked “the gasp heard ’round the world” or at least ’round those Virginia suburbs where defense contractors have offices, but there was a gasp-gap for a simple reason: no one believed the cuts would happen.
But just in case, we looked for Pentagon programs to cut. It wasn’t easy.
We first suggested a ten percent across the board cut in producing stuff that blows things up, plus eight percent for R and D, that’s NEW stuff that blows things up! All such stuff is TOP secret so we couldn’t cut IT because we didn’t know what IT was.
An exciting new program was the SLAVS vehicle, which can cruise indefinitely under sea, then surface, then move over land, take off vertically, cruise overhead like a Drone and launch itself into space. The SLAVS prototype cost three billion dollars but it came without seats or a toilet. It’s being retro-fitted.
Two experimental programs started in the Bush era seemed expendable. Project Warrior Family was supposed to create an indestructible bionic family able to survive a nuclear attack. After eight years it has only proved successful on Dick Cheney and his daughter Mary’s left foot.
VIP Decoys. These decoys are life-sized balloon duplicates of political leaders to be deployed in case of terrorist attacks. Early trials are promising. Over months of testing no one could tell the Mitch McConnell balloon from the Senator. Shelving the VIP Decoy project would save millions but it might be more in the national interest to shelve Senator McConnell.
Meanwhile, defense contractors are working to persuade Congress that these projects are all vital. Of course those messages are sent by check to each campaign committee, so don’t expect those defense cuts anytime soon.