Why Are GOP Deficit Hawks Telling the Army to Buy Tank Upgrades They Don't Want?

There is a $436 million dollar program that senior Army officials have repeatedly said they do not want to proceed and would make an excellent measure for cuts or payments for other services. The problem? Congress refuses to listen and is insisting they spend this money that they do not want.

As talks of how to cut spending and government waste have become the normal modus operandi of debate on Capitol Hill, a curious little show is playing out within the halls of power in Washington that provides a demonstration of the difference between rhetoric and the reality of attempts to cut spending.

The program in question is an upgrade to the M1 Abrams main battle tank. General Raymond Odierno, a 37-year Army veteran, told the Associated Press, "If we had our choice, we would use that money in a different way." Nearly two-thirds of the Abrams tank fleet has already been upgraded and the Army has signaled that future upgrades to the fleet are not needed. The current plan is to allow the current tank fleet to suffice until a new tank is developed and production starts around 2017.

"The Army is on record saying we do not require any additional M1A2s," said Davis Welch, deputy director of the Army Budget Office.

Yet two of Congress's biggest deficit hawks, Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), are champions of the measure. They claim that they have a better view on defense issues then the Department of Defense and that stopping the project would result in difficulty restarting the supply line. Jordan said if "it was not in the best interests of the national defense for the United States of America, then you would not see me supporting it like we do."

Portman claimed, "That supply chain is going to be much more costly and much more inefficient to create if you mothball the plant." 

Does the Depart of Defense know best with regards of identifying wasteful defense spending, or are they being too hasty, as many in Congress think?

Let us know on Twitter at @policymic or in the comments below.

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Gabriel Rodriguez

Gabriel Rodriguez is currently studying for a Masters in Applied Economics at Georgetown. He is a graduate of New College of Florida with a degree in Economics. He is interested in econometrics, statistical analysis, behavioral economics, and developmental economics.

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