Congress Orders More Tanks Army Does Not Want, Sequester Cuts To Social Services Still Ignored

It is the time of sequester, a time for the tightening of all belts in Washington, mandatory spending cuts for all. That is the mantra of deficit hawks on Capital Hill in Washington, DC. But the moment it affects their districts, suddenly their tune changes, and it changes in a very ugly way.

Republican Congressman Jim Jordan and Senator Rob Portman, both of Ohio, have been beating the budget cut mantra for awhile, claiming that Washington DC spends too much money. However, when it comes to a program involving their home state of Ohio, suddenly they are spending like drunken sailors, as they both are pushing for a half-billion in spending on new M-1 Abrams battle tanks for the US Army. The M-1, built in Lima, Ohio by defense contractor General Dynamics, is one of the worlds premier battle tanks. And, as the Department of Defense has stated multiple times, they don’t need any more.

During the ramp up and maintenance for the Iraq war, the Bush administration ordered thousands of these tanks. Currently, most of the US Army’s 2,700 tanks are less than three years old, with over 2/3rds of them of the latest, and most modern version of the weapon. The problem is, the M-1 was designed for tank-to-tank fighting, and in the modern battlefield of insurgent strikes and urban warfare, it does not have a place in the current field of combat which the US finds itself.

The two Republicans argument is that this is the only factory capable of producing tanks within the United States, so it must continue to be paid for, and tanks ordered, whether we need them or not. This is of course preposterous, as other nations also field the M-1, meaning that the factory would be kept open regardless in order to supply our allies overseas. In addition, these two are ignoring that the reason why we have only one factory is due to corporate consolidation, which resulted in all tank production falling into a single companies hands, and to increase profits, that company shut down all other plants but the one in politically important Ohio.

This is a situation of their own making. By allowing defense contractors to consolidate, congress made themselves slaves to their whims. It created a new class of defense contractor, unlike in days past when the same company which made tanks would also produce automobiles or tractors, allowing the same skills to be utilized in different areas for when defense contracts were reduced. The era of the specialized conglomerate is unsustainable, and reminds us of the old Soviet model economy, with its factories of produced, but unnecessary products.

There is an irony when one finds the budget hawks from the Republican Party arguing for the same policies which bankrupted the Soviet Union. Instead of a capitalist system, as they claim to want, they are instead aiming for a state economy of the Stalin variety. This is a sign of the absolute economic ignorance of the Republican party. More tanks will not give us better security, we cannot use the ones we have now. Instead they make us less economically secure, as the money which is going to them should be spent on programs which have been proven to be of greater benefit for the nation as a whole.


Nathaniel Downes is the son of a former state representative of New Hampshire, now living in Seattle Washington.

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