Tell Your Senators F-22's Are a Waste of Our Money
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WASHINGTON, DC - The leading progressive group of veterans has joined with a wide array of groups to oppose funding added into a defense spending bill for the controversial F-22 fighter - a plane developed to fight the next generation of Soviet Union fighter jets - which the Pentagon doesn't even want.
VoteVets.org is joining the effort, along with USAction, Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities, Taxpayers for Common Sense, Common Cause, the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Women's Action for New Directions and others in opposing the funding.
Late in the night last week, the House Armed Services Committee voted 31-30 to add $369 million (as part of a $2 billion down payment) for a dozen more F-22 fighter jets, despite the fact that the Secretary of Defense only asked for four, and those have already been paid for. Procurement of the plane was supposed to be finished after that. Funds to pay for the unneeded jets would be paid for by cutting funds for Energy Department cleanups at nuclear weapons sites.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said the additional funding for more F-22's was "a big problem." Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz have publicly withdrawn support for the F-22 saying, "The time has come to move on."
"To any in Congress who vote to keep this money for the F-22 in, don't try to present it as a pro-military vote," said Jon Soltz, an Iraq War Veteran and Chairman of VoteVets.org. "The military doesn't want it. Troops can't use it. Most veterans would say they're not for it. And none of us are for letting dangerous nuclear waste continue to seep into our land and water. So don't try to tie this pork to troops and veterans. In fact, those who really care about the military, troops, veterans, and America will vote to strip the money for the F-22 out. We'll be watching."
"It seems like everyone except Congress understands that these planes are a waste of our taxes," said Matt Holland, Director of TrueMajority.org, a project of US Action. "USAction / TrueMajority.org is organizing against this boondoggle because they've always understood that money wasted in the Pentagon is not available to help Americans who are struggling; Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities just hates to see money wasted on non-essential projects, period. Taxpayers for Common Sense is opposing out of desire for fiscal responsibility, Common Cause doesn't like to see lobbyists have this much power, Alliance for Nuclear Accountability knows how much we need that money back in the nuclear cleanup fund; even Physicians for Social Responsibility and the New York Times are against these warplanes. And of course groups like Women's Action for New Directions have been working to stop wasteful weapons programs for many years. There are a hundred reasons not to put these unneeded planes into the budget, but only one reason in favor - pork-barrel spending to make defense contractors happy."
The F-22 has limited air-to-ground capabilities, which renders it mostly useless in the wars the U.S. is fighting right now, and might be fighting well into the future. President Obama and Secretary Gates have decided to shift our procurement to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, which the military could use, because of its air-to-ground and stealth capabilities.
Six decades of U.S. nuclear weapons research, testing, and production activities have left dozens of Department of Energy sites contaminated by radioactive and hazardous waste. The contamination threatens workers, communities, and the environment, including major water supplies.