Posted on April 21, 2015
Media fret over missile defense waste
In reaction to David Willman’s April 4th Los Angeles Times article, the media have expressed alarm over wasteful missile defense spending. The report, which the Pentagon disputes, says that several failed initiatives have cost the taxpayers $10 billion over ten years. Although this only represents about one-eighth of the Missile Defense Agency budget, liberals have seized upon it to claim that our entire missile defense system is a boondoggle.
There are good reasons to be skeptical of the Times report. For one, it describes the Sea-Based X-Band Radar system (SBX) as having been “mothballed,” because “its field of vision is so narrow.” According to The Fiscal Times, however, MDA spokesman Rick Lehner says that SBX remains an active project, and that it was intentionally made to have a narrow scope in order to track small objects with precision. In other words, what Willman presents as a terminal defect in SBX is actually a description of how it is designed to work.
While it’s true that the other three projects described in the article have been shelved, the conclusion to which the reader is led is that every dollar spent on them has been wasted. The likelihood that they yielded valuable information to be used on other projects, or that the logistical obstacles that halted them might someday be overcome, is not considered. Instead, the conclusions a casual reader would take from the article are that all of our missile defense efforts have amounted to nothing, and that such a result was inevitable from the start.
That’s completely inaccurate, and dangerously so, insofar as it may affect future debates over missile defense funding. On the other hand, at least it puts certain liberals on record in opposition to wasteful federal spending. That being the case, they are presumably also concerned about the following:
* President Obama’s $840 billion stimulus package – Based on the theory that unprecedented levels of deficit spending can generate economic growth, its failure should be obvious, now that Recovery Summer VI is around the corner. As long as the liberal media are becoming budget hawks, they might observe that $840 billion is greater than $10 billion.
* “Cash for Clunkers” – This plan subsidized trade-ins of older cars for newer, more energy efficient replacements. The program only lasted one month, yet cost the taxpayers $3 billion, far more than the $2.2 billion that the SBX system has cost to date.
* Head Start – The early education program, created in 1965, has shown no measurable benefit to its participants. This, according to no less an authority than the Department of Health and Human Services, which administers it. Nevertheless, we proceeded to waste $8.6 billion on it in 2014 alone.
* The National Endowment for the Arts – Its defenders argue that the funding it receives is negligible, and yet vitally important. Neither of these is true. Over the past decade, the taxpayers have spent $1.5 billion on it, while producing nothing of substance.
* The Department of Energy – This creation of Jimmy Carter’s will cost roughly $28 billion this year. Its mission consists of dispensing corporate welfare to alternative energy flim-flam artists, promoting the usual “climate change” hysteria, and obstructing genuine domestic energy production.
When controversies arise over examples like these, the news media are not nearly so judgmental about government waste. The simple fact that they continue to editorially support Obama tells us that frugality is not the basis of their opposition to our missile defenses. In fact, if the MDA were entirely wasteful, and its projects wholly ineffective, that would suit them just fine.
Willman reveals as much when he characterizes President Clinton’s missile defense system as the good, responsible one. In reality, Clinton had no missile defense system. All he did was partially defund and dismantle the Reagan-Bush era program, give it a new acronym, and claim it as his own. Sure, Clinton opposed air and sea-based defenses like those Willman calls “expensive flops,” but he also restricted the development of land-based defenses by holding us to the ABM Treaty, even though it had been nullified by the demise of the Soviet Union.
To liberals like Clinton, Obama and the LA Times, strength is provocative and therefore dangerous. Thus, they’d rather maintain a “strategic balance” than give America the upperhand. Their fear, then, is that we might actually succeed in creating a reliable missile defense system. If, instead, they could ensure failure by adding a mere $10 billion to the national debt, they’d consider that money well spent.
The Shinbone: The Frontier of the Free Press