Posted by | February 14, 2011 18:28 | Filed under: Contributors Opinion Sandi Behrns

by Sandi Behrns

Barely one month into GOP control of the House, it’s already getting hard to take them seriously on any of their promises. Throughout the campaign season and in the months since, we’ve heard very little from the right other than the constant drumbeat to slash spending. Part of that rhetoric even culminated (improbably) in a highly-touted ban on earmarks.

Now it has come time to put their money where their mouth is. On Friday, the 359-page GOP budget bill was filed in the House. It will make its way to the floor for consideration by the entire chamber later this week (without the benefit of hearings or even committee deliberation.)

As far as spending cuts go, they’ve done that and then some. It is a proposal of breathtaking social irresponsibility. It slashes nutrition funding for infants and pregnant women, will hamper Head Start programs, would cut heating assistance for the poor, and strip local funding away, leaving schools, law enforcement and infrastructure programs in the lurch. But as Scott Lilly of the Center For American Progress reports:

Buried deeply in these 359 pages of ugly surprises is a provision that would mean one community in America would do a lot better than all of the others. The legislation added an estimated $450 million for a particular bit of defense spending that the Department of Defense did not ask for and does not want.

…with a big portion of the funds flowing to two cities in Ohio—Cincinnati, where Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) grew up, and Dayton, the largest city in his congressional district.

The funding turns out to be just a down payment on a program which would obligate the government to spend up to four times as much in the future. What is this spending?

The money will go to pay the costs to General Electric Co.’s General Electric Aviation unit and the British-owned Rolls Royce Group for their development of an engine for the new Joint Strike Fighter aircraft—money that looks, feels, and smells very much like an earmark. [emphasis mine]

What does the Pentagon think?

The Pentagon insists GE’s second engine isn’t needed, that it has no use for it, and that further development is a waste of money. [Dayton Business Journal]

While I’m certain that the local Ohio economy could greatly benefit from this expenditure, there are glaring issues for the GOP on this. One, federal spending to boost employment and a local economy sounds a lot like the dreaded “Stimulus” we’ve heard so much about. Two, spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a project which, not only has the president not requested, but the Pentagon itself says it neither needs nor wants, sounds an awful lot like “wasteful spending.” And, finally, this is a big hypocritical black eye for Speaker Boehner, and any reputation he could possibly have as a serious person. What happened to that “adult discussion“?

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Sandi Behrns

Sandi Behrns is a noted policy nerd, new media & web developer, and consultant to progressive organizations and campaigns. She is a senior contributor to Liberaland, and the Executive Editor of Progressive Congress News.