Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Quick Takes: Fighter Jets, Aussie Prosperity, American Recovery

Senate Cancels F-22's
In one of the best moves that I've seen Congress make this year, the Senate has passed an ammendment to slash funding for the F-22 fighter jet and in its place to restore an equivalent amount of funding to military operations. This vote, which was led by Democrats but was fairly bipartisan in nature, with many Senators crossing the aisle on both sides, passed 58-40.

The F-22 is a phenomenal waste of money and a giveaway to defense contractors. Billions of dolalrs have been spent and billions more initially appropriated for the planes. The F-22 is a fighter jet, not a bomber. Can you even remember the last time we had an air-to-air war?

The F-22 couldn't have been used in the Persian Gulf War, Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti, The Second Gulf War, Afghanistan or indeed any conflict that we've fought in since World War II.

The money is FAR better spent shoring up military operations and increasing recruitment and retention. It may be flashy, but it isn't worth it.

Aussie Prosperity
As I spend the next two weeks in Australia, I'm struck by how unaffected the Aussies are by the global recesison. Unemployment is around 5%, although it is projected to potentially reach between 7% and 8%. They have all kinds of questions about how bad the economy is in the US, but it is the sort of distant question that you might ask about how bad things are in Darfur. The question I can't figure out is: what are they doing that we aren't?

American Recovery
Things are continuing to look modestly better in the U.S. The stock market has been soaring the past week (although still way, way off it's highs), corporate earnings have been looking strong, Fed Chairman Ben Bernake is talking as much about inflation risk these days versus economic recovery.

These may all be good things, but most Americans won't believe the corner has been turned until unemployment starts falling. Hopefully we are close.

On the stimulus front, for the latest week, the Feds report:
Money Authorized: $183.4 billion (36.8%)
Money Spent: $64.4 billion (12.9%)

Six months into the Obama Presidency, the stimulus is really just getting going. Transportation, which I consider to be the core of stimulus activity, has approved $21.2 billion in projects, but has still only spent $683 million. If I'm right and most Americans measure the economy by unemployment, Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood needs to get these projects moving.

Thanks for reading...if you like this site, tell your friends.

No comments: