Comment and Debate: Wasted dollars on plane we dont need | Burlington Free Press

Written byRosanne M. Greco

If the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter comes to Vermont, thousands of families in South Burlington and Winooski could be forced to move, as the noise generated by the plane’s engines makes entire neighborhoods unlivable.

The F-35’s crash zone extends for miles, putting residents of Burlington, South Burlington, Winooski, Colchester and Williston at risk.

Fifty-five South Burlington homes have already been destroyed because of the noise of the F-16. Vermont citizens should not have to sacrifice more. Not only is the plane unnecessary, it comes at a cost of billions of taxpayer dollars that should be spent elsewhere. This is totally unacceptable.

What’s more, the plane is not in the interests of America’s national security. At over $1 trillion, the F-35 is the most expensive weapon system in U.S. military history. Security analysts down the line say the F-15 and F-16 offer all the necessary capabilities at a fraction of the cost. It’s why legendary aviator Gen. Chuck Yeager recently called the F-35 “a waste of money.”

Following Gen. Yeager’s recommendations could save almost $30 billion over the next five years, and $80 billion in total, according to analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. That’s the right move.

In today’s budget environment, spending billions on the F-35 doesn’t make sense. Every dollar wasted on the F-35 is a dollar not spent on other programs —programs that are vital to our economy and our national security. Local schools and programs for the elderly are facing budget cuts.

Veterans are coming home from Afghanistan, only to struggle to find a job. Instead of wasting tax dollars on the F-35, we could be investing in programs that are critical to national defense, like preventing terrorism and protecting against cyberattacks.

So why exactly is the F-35 winning the Washington budget game when all of these other important programs are losing? The same old Washington politics is to blame. Matching America’s finite budget resources to our security requirements is the definition of a smart defense strategy. But, as Gen. Dempsey, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently admitted, “We have been living with unconstrained resources for 10 years, and, frankly, we’ve acquired some bad habits.”

Congress is to blame for allowing waste and mismanagement to run rife at the Pentagon, whose budget is too often dictated by the needs of contractors and not those of the troops.

Rather than asking tough questions, legislators often sign off on the Pentagon’s budget request, letting wasteful programs like the F-35 continue and putting the needs of members of the military returning from active duty on the back burner.

Congress is responsible for the Pentagon’s spending problem, and members like Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., can help change course. As a member of the influential committee overseeing these issues, Sen. Leahy has the opportunity to ensure taxpayer dollars are well spent. He should be a leader on the F-35, encouraging his colleagues to end Pentagon waste and invest in defense programs that support our troops rather than waste taxpayer dollars.

Hundreds of residents of South Burlington have been displaced because of the F-16. Thousands more shouldn’t be forced out of their homes for the F-35. Americans shouldn’t have to watch their tax dollars wasted on a plane we don’t need.

It’s time for our representatives in Congress to stand up for our families and our tax dollars. It’s time to make clear that the F-35 just won’t fly in Burlington.

Col. Rosanne M. Greco (ret.) served in the U.S. Air Force from 1973 to 2003. She was formerly chairwoman of the South Burlington City Council.

via Comment and Debate: Wasted dollars on plane we dont need | Burlington Free Press.