More Stimulus Spending — $35 BILLION On Something That We Don’t Need

by Ben Hoffman

The Pentagon announced Thursday that it has selected Boeing to supply a new generation of aerial refueling tankers in a deal worth more than $30 billion.

Donley said Boeing beat out European Aeronautic Defence and Space (EADS), to provide 179 tankers in the first phase of the program to replace the aerial refueling fleet. He indicated that both companies met all 372 mandatory requirements of the contract but that Boeing submitted the lower bid.

The tanker is to be designated the KC-46A, and the first 18 planes are to be delivered by 2017, Donley said.

Read more…

That money could have gone towards saving teachers jobs and providing financial help for college students. It’s time to stop all this goddamn spending on defense and spend it on our country instead.

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18 Comments to “More Stimulus Spending — $35 BILLION On Something That We Don’t Need”

  1. Will I’m not excited about more government spending, the Air Force actually does need these refueling tankers. This article indicates that many of the Air Force’s existing fleet is over 50 years old. I can understand cutting defense spending on things the Pentagon doesn’t want, but Senators push for their states. I can also understand cutting expensive weapons programs like the F-22 (the “hanger queen”). But this decision was a responsible one.

    Do you think it is safe for our armed forces to be flying these things to support combat operations? More importantly, would you get on a plane that was half a century old? I sure as hell wouldn’t.

    To your comment that we should be spending our money on our country, this contract does help our country. In one stroke of the pen, it creates 48,000 American jobs and improves our national security. All these jobs will have a ripple effect on the economy as third-party suppliers benefit from the contract.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not excited about the $35 billion price tag, but this is one of those things that just had to be done. Operating 50-year aircraft for national security operations is reckless.

    • [More importantly, would you get on a plane that was half a century old? I sure as hell wouldn’t.]

      People do that all the time on commercial airlines.

      But this is about priorities. Those planes could last another few years. They’re not much use in Afghanistan and we can’t afford another war, so it’s not money well spent. 48,000 jobs for $35 billion comes out to about 3/4 billion dollars per job. We could pay 140,000 teachers $50,000 a year for five years with that much money. We could provide grants to students. Invest in renewable energy. Build high-speed rail. There are so many things we could do to make our country better. Eisenhower warned of the military industrial complex that bankrupting our country.

  2. So what!
    The Liberals have spent 5 Trillion dollars in 2 years for nothing. Big Deal.

  3. Real Stimulus Waste
    • $2 billion earmark to re-start FutureGen, a near-zero emissions coal power plant in Illinois that the Department of Energy defunded last year because it said the project was inefficient.

    • A $246 million tax break for Hollywood movie producers to buy motion picture film.

    • $650 million for the digital television converter box coupon program.

    • $88 million for the Coast Guard to design a new polar ice-breaking ship.

    • $448 million for constructing the Department of Homeland Security headquarters.

    • $248 million for furniture at the new Homeland Security headquarters.

    • $600 million to buy hybrid vehicles for federal employees.

    • $400 million for the Centers for Disease Control to screen and prevent STD’s.

    • $1.4 billion for rural waste disposal programs.

    • $125 million for the Washington sewer system.

    • $150 million for Smithsonian museum facilities.

    • $1 billion for the 2010 Census, which already has a projected cost overrun of $3 billion.

    • $75 million for “smoking cessation activities.”

    • $200 million for public computer centers at community colleges.

    • $75 million for salaries of employees at the FBI.

    • $25 million for tribal alcohol and substance abuse reduction.

    • $500 million for flood reduction projects on the Mississippi River.

    • $10 million to inspect canals in urban areas.

    • $6 billion to turn federal buildings into “green” buildings.

    • $500 million for state and local fire stations.

    • $650 million for wildland fire management on forest service lands.

    • $1.2 billion for “youth activities,” including youth summer job programs.

    • $88 million for renovating the headquarters of the Public Health Service.

    • $412 million for CDC buildings and property.

    • $500 million for building and repairing National Institutes of Health facilities in Bethesda, Maryland.

    • $160 million for “paid volunteers” at the Corporation for National and Community Service.

    • $5.5 million for “energy efficiency initiatives” at the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration.

    • $850 million for Amtrak.

    • $100 million for reducing the hazard of lead-based paint.

    • $75 million to construct a “security training” facility for State Department Security officers when they can be trained at existing facilities of other agencies.

    • $110 million to the Farm Service Agency to upgrade computer systems.

    • $200 million in funding for the lease of alternative energy vehicles for use on military installations.

  4. The 102 worst ways the government is spending your tax dollars:

    102: Protecting a Michigan insect collection from other insects ($187,632)

    101: Highway beautified by fish art in Washington ($10,000)

    100: University studying hookup behavior of female college coeds in New York ($219,000)

    99: Police department getting 92 blackberries for supervisors in Rhode Island ($95,000)

    98: Upgrades to seldom-used river cruise boat in Oklahoma ($1.8 million)

    97: Precast concrete toilet buildings for Mark Twain National Forest in Montana ($462,000)

    96: University studying whether mice become disoriented when they consume alcohol in Florida ($8,408)

    95: Foreign bus wheel polishers for California ($259,000)

    94: Recovering crab pots lost at sea in Oregon ($700,000)

    93: Developing a program to develop “machine-generated humor” in Illinois ($712,883)

    92: Colorado museum where stimulus was signed (and already has $90 million in the bank) gets geothermal stimulus grant ($2.6 million)

    91: Grant to the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance to support the traditional arts apprenticeship program, gathering and festival ($30,000)

    90: Studying methamphetamines and the female rat sex drive in Maryland ($30,000)

    89: Studying mating decisions of cactus bugs in Florida ($325,394)

    88: Studying why deleting a gene can create sex reversal in people, but not in mice in Minnesota ($190,000)

    87: College hires director for a project on genetic control of sensory hair cell membrane channels in zebrafish in California ($327,337)

    86: New jumbo recycling bins with microchips embedded inside to track participation in Ohio ($500,000)

    85: Oregon Federal Building’s “green” renovation at nearly the price of a brand new building ($133 million)

    84: Massachusetts middle school getting money to build a solar array on its roof ($150,000)

    83: Road widening that could have been millions of dollars cheaper if Lousiana hadn’t opted to replace a bridge that may not have needed replacing ($60 million)

    82: Cleanup effort of a Washington nuclear waste site that already got $12 billion from the DOE ($1.9 billion)

    81: Six woodlands water taxis getting a new home in Texas ($750,000)

    80: Maryland group gets money to develop “real life” stories that underscore job and infrastructure-related research findings ($363,760)

    79: Studying social networks like Facebook in North Carolina ($498,000)

    78:18 North Carolina teacher coaches to heighten math and reading performance ($4.4 million)

    77: Retrofitting light switches with motion sensors for one company in Arizona ($800,000)

    76: Removing graffiti along 100 miles of flood-control ditches in California ($837,000)

    75: Bicycle lanes, shared lane signs and bike racks in Pennsylvania ($105,000)

    74: Privately-owned steakhouse rehabilitating its restaurant space in Missouri ($75,000)

    73: National dinner cruise boat company in Illinois outfitting vessels with surveillance systems to protect against terrorists ($1 million)

    72: Producing and transporting peanuts and peanut butter in North Carolina ($900,000)

    71: Refurnishing and delivering picnic tables in Iowa ($30,000)

    70: Digital television converter box coupon program in D.C. ($650 million)

    69: Elevating and relocating 3,000 feet of track for the Napa Valley Wine Train in California ($54 million)

    68: Hosting events for Earth Day, the summer solstice etc. in Minnesota ($50,000)

    67: Expanding ocean aquaculture in Hawaii ($99,960)

    66: Raising railroad tracks 18 inches in Oregon because the residents of one small town were tired of taking a detour around them ($4.2 million)

    65: Professors and employees of Iowa state universities voluntarily taking early retirement ($43 million)

    64: Minnesota theatre named after Che Guevara putting on “socially conscious” puppet shows ($25,000)

    63: Replacing a basketball court lighting system with a more energy efficient one in Arizona ($20,000)

    62: Repainting and adding a security camera to one bridge in Oregon ($3.5 million)

    61: Missouri bridge project that already was full-funded with state money ($8 million)

    60: New hospital parking garage in New York that will employ less people ($19.5 million)

    59: University in North Carolina studying why adults with ADHD smoke more ($400,000)

    58: Low-income housing residents in one Minnesota city receiving free laptops, WiFi and iPod Touches to “educate” them in technology ($5 million)

    57: University in California sending students to Africa to study why Africans vote they the way they do in their elections ($200,000)

    56: Researching the impact of air pollution combined with a high-fat diet on obesity development in Ohio ($225,000)

    55: Studying how male and female birds care for their offspring and how it compares to how humans care for their children in Oklahoma ($90,000)

    54: University in Pennsylvania researching fossils in Argentina (over $1 million)

    53: University in Tennessee studying how black holes form (over $1 million)

    52: University in Oklahoma sending 3 researchers to Alaska to study grandparents and how they pass on knowledge to younger generations ($1.5 million)

    51: Grant application from a Pennsylvania university for a researcher named in the Climate-gate scandal (Rep. Darrell Issa is calling on the president to freeze the grant) ($500,000)

    50: Studying the impact of global warming on wildflowers in a Colorado ghost town ($500,000)

    49: Bridge built over railroad crossing so 168 Nebraska town residents don’t have to wait for the trains to pass ($7 million)

    48: Renovating an old hotel into a visitors center in Kentucky ($300,000)

    47: Removing overgrown weeds in a Rhode Island park ($250,000)

    46: Renovating 5 seldom-used ports of entry on the U.S.-Canada border in Montana ($77 million)

    45: Testing how to control private home appliances in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts from an off-site computer ($800,000)

    44: Repainting a rarely-used bridge in North Carolina ($3.1 million)

    43: Renovating a desolate Wisconsin bridge that averages 10 cars a day ($426,000)

    42: 4 new buses for New Hampshire ($2 million)

    41: Repaving a 1-mile stretch of Atlanta road that had parts of it already repaved in 2007 ($490,000)

    40: Florida beauty school tuition ($2.3 million)

    39: Extending a bike path to the Minnesota Twins stadium ($500,000)

    38: Beautification of Los Angeles’ Sunset Boulevard ($1.1 million)

    37: Colorado Dragon Boat Festival ($10,000)

    36: Developing the next generation of supersonic corporate jets in Maryland that could cost $80 million dollars each ($4.7 million)

    35: New spring training facilities for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies ($30 million)

    34: Demolishing 35 old laboratories in New Mexico ($212 million)

    33: Putting free WiFi, Internet kiosks and interactive history lessons in 2 Texas rest stops ($13.8 million)

    32: Replacing a single boat motor on a government boat in D.C. ($10,500)

    31: Developing the next generation of football gloves in Pennsylvania ($150,000)

    30: Pedestrian bridge to nowhere in West Virginia ($80,000)

    29: Replacing all signage on 5 miles of road in Rhode Island ($4,403,205)

    28: Installing a geothermal energy system to heat the “incredible shrinking mall” in Tennessee ($5 million)

    27: University in Minnesota studying how to get the homeless to stop smoking ($230,000)

    26: Large woody habitat rehabilitation project in Wisconsin ($16,800)

    25: Replacing escalators in the parking garage of one D.C. metro station ($4.3 million)

    24: Building an airstrip in a community most Alaskans have never even heard of ($14,707,949)

    23: Bike and pedestrian paths connecting Camden, N.J. to Philadelphia, Penn. when there’s already a bridge that connects them ($23 million)

    22: Sending 10 university undergrads each year from North Carolina to Costa Rica to study the rainforests ($564,000)

    21: Road signs touting stimulus funds at work in Ohio ($1 million)

    20: Researching how paying attention improves performance of difficult tasks in Connecticut ($850,000)

    19: Kentucky Transportation Department awarding contracts to companies associated with a road contractor accused of bribing the previous state transportation secretary ($24 million)

    18: Amtrak losing $32 per passenger nationally but rewarded with windfall ($1.3 billion)

    17: Widening an Arizona interstate even though the company that won the contract has a history of tax fraud and pollution ($21.8 million)

    16: Replace existing dumbwaiters in New York ($351,807)

    15: Deer underpass in Wyoming ($1,239,693)

    14: Arizona universities examining the division of labor in ant colonies (combined $950,000)

    13: Fire station without firefighters in Nevada ($2 million)

    12: “Clown” theatrical production in Pennsylvania ($25,000)

    11: Maryland town gets money but doesn’t know what to do with it ($25,000)

    10: Investing in nation-wide wind power (but majority of money has gone to foreign companies) ($2 billion)

    9: Resurfacing a tennis court in Montana ($50,000)

    8: University in Indiana studying why young men do not like to wear condoms ($221,355)

    7: Funds for Massachusetts roadway construction to companies that have defrauded taxpayers, polluted the environment and have paid tens of thousands of dollars in fines for violating workplace safety laws (millions)

    6: Sending 11 students and 4 teachers from an Arkansas university to the U.N. climate change convention in Copenhagen, using almost 54,000 lbs of carbon dioxide from air travel alone ($50,000)

    5: Storytelling festival in Utah ($15,000)

    4: Door mats to the Department of the Army in Texas ($14,675)

    3: University in New York researching young adults who drink malt liquor and smoke pot ($389,357)

    2: Solar panels for climbing gym in Colorado ($157,800)

    1: Grant for one Massachusetts university for “robobees” (miniature flying robot bees) ($2 million)

  5. “People do that all the time on commercial airlines.”

    No they don’t. As the article states, “Many of the aircraft, refitted Boeing 707s from a half-century ago, are among the oldest jets still flying.”

    When is the last time you flew on a Boeing 707?

    “But this is about priorities. Those planes could last another few years.”

    You’re right. Even with this contract, the earliest some of them would be replaced is in another six years: “The first 18 of 179 planes, to be called KC-46A tankers, are to be delivered by 2017.”

    “They’re not much use in Afghanistan and we can’t afford another war, so it’s not money well spent.”

    Are you kidding? They are critical for our effort in Afghanistan because it is a landlocked country in Central Asia. Again, I refer you to the article you reference for this blog:

    “The Air Force has set the tankers as its highest procurement priority. Most of the aircraft operating in the Afghanistan war zone depend on extensive aerial refueling, and ‘without a large tanker fleet, it is very hard for U.S. military aircraft to get to many parts of the world,’ Thompson said.

    “48,000 jobs for $35 billion comes out to about 3/4 billion dollars per job. We could pay 140,000 teachers $50,000 a year for five years with that much money. We could provide grants to students. Invest in renewable energy. Build high-speed rail. There are so many things we could do to make our country better.”

    First off, I made an error in my original post. The contract creates 50,000, not 48,000 jobs (that was the EADS contract). Secondly, the country isn’t getting just jobs, it is getting planes and is replacing a critical gap in our national defense program. Nobody can challenge the United States militarily because we have the best Air Force on the planet. Without the ability to safely resupply our aircraft, we are putting our national defense at risk.

    I do agree that some defense dollars could be better spent on things like education and renewable energy (take the F-22 program for instance), but high speed rail? What the heck does that do for the country?

    • [I do agree that some defense dollars could be better spent on things like education and renewable energy (take the F-22 program for instance), but high speed rail? What the heck does that do for the country?]

      Transportation is a major part of our economy. Airline travel has become antiquated. It’s a big pain in the ass to fly anywhere. That’s why most other countries are embracing high-speed rail. It’s more reliable, more comfortable, and in some cases faster.

  6. “Transportation is a major part of our economy. Airline travel has become antiquated. It’s a big pain in the ass to fly anywhere. That’s why most other countries are embracing high-speed rail. It’s more reliable, more comfortable, and in some cases faster.”

    All good points.

    My wife also made another good argument about how it would make it easier to get to work in the Bay Area. I couldn’t come up with a good counter-argument to that one. 😉

    I am open to it if someone makes a case for how usage will help it pay for itself. I believe high speed rail costs tens of billions of dollars (though I haven’t researched the cost myself so this figure could be too high or too low). You can definitely make the argument that it is cheaper for fuel consumption, but it is mighty expensive to build.

    Bottom line is I am open to high speed rail if proponents make a sound economic argument for it, particularly that the savings on fuel and the revenue it generates will quickly pay back its cost.

    Plus, as you say, “It’s a big pain in the ass to fly anywhere.” 😉

    • It costs a lot to build airports, too, which are paid for with taxpayers’ dollars. But with fuel prices taking off, we need an alternative now more than ever. We may see $5.00 a gallon prices at the pump pretty soon. Airline ticket prices will have to go up to cover the increasing cost of fuel. Increased shipping prices will need to be reflected in prices of goods.

  7. Yeah, maybe you can mount some solar panels on the planes? Or what about wind power 🙂

  8. So all spending is good as long as it’s done it by Socialist, eh Ben? 🙂

  9. “It costs a lot to build airports, too, which are paid for with taxpayers’ dollars.”

    While this is true, taxpayers have already paid for the airports. That said, any high speed rail should be funded via municipal bonds wherein the profits of the high speed rail service cover interest and pay down the debt. That way, governments must ensure that the service will be profitable before embarking on a ‘Big-Dig”-like exercise that consumes a ton of taxpayer dollars. If high speed rail is compelling enough to attract outside investors, I am all for it.

    “But with fuel prices taking off, we need an alternative now more than ever. We may see $5.00 a gallon prices at the pump pretty soon. Airline ticket prices will have to go up to cover the increasing cost of fuel. Increased shipping prices will need to be reflected in prices of goods.”

    I completely agree.

  10. Of course that overall war budget includes ‘building Afghanistan’ just like it included builing roads and schools and bridges in Iraq. It’d be cool if we got to work rebuilding America – we get a ‘D’ from natiaonal engineering societies for the poor condition of our infrastructure.

  11. Ooooohhhhh, Ben, can’t have that. The horror!

  12. Yeah, the $4 Trillion Obama spent in the last two years was really helpful.
    To the Debt and the Chinese.

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