HIGHTOWER: U.S. In Arms Race With Itself

Oh, good, there's a new toy on the market.This is not the latest "Tickle Me Elmo," but a war toy, and you're just going to be tickled pink to hear this story.It's about the F-22, a state-of-the-art, double-winged, fighter jet that combines stealth technology with supersonic speed, agility and power. This baby comes in both your one-seat version and as a two-seater. Sticker price: $160 million. Each. The Air Force has ordered 438 of them, for a total tab of $70 billion, plus change.Before we shell-out 70 billion of our hard-earned tax dollars shouldn't we ask whether we can afford it and whether we even need it? For example, Washington says we must whack some $ 180 billion out of our Medicare benefits to balance the federal budget, but I say we should cut the F-22, not Medicare.We already have two powerhouse stealth fighters -- the F-15 and the F-117 -- that are far better than anything any potential enemy can put up in the skies against us. The F-117, for example, did just fine against the Iraqis in the Gulf War.Now get this: The F-22 was designed to counter a new fighter the Soviets were developing. Hello. The Soviet Union has disappeared, and so did their plane. But our Pentagon, in collusion with the huge contractor Lockheed-Martin, still plans to spend billions on an F-22 that will have no one to fight.The Pentagon, though, says other countries now have the F-15, so we need this new plane to combat them. How did other countries get F-15s? We sold the planes to them -- at discount prices, too, subsidized by us taxpayers.This is Jim Hightower saying . . . Guess what? We're in an arms race with ourselves! To help stop this stupidity, call the Campaign for New Priorities: 202-544-8222.For more information:Campaign for New Priorities 202-544-8222Source:"Air Force rolls out its costly superfighter" by Michael E. Ruane. Austin American-Statesman: April 10, 1997.

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