When it comes to the nation's defense, we all know billions are spent on the latest weapons. But what if the Department of Defense says it thinks the money could be better spent elsewhere but Congress wants the money to be spent anyway? In this day of sequester and automatic cuts, you probably never thought this might actually be a dilemma. We're talking about the Abrams tank. It's made in Ohio and 70 new ones are supposed to be on order for a cost of more than $430 million dollars. Some Congressman (from Ohio) are suggesting the tank order should go through.
"These situations are never easy, but if the military has made a recommendation, saying they don't need a particular system anymore, that should have a lot of weight in terms of Congress making a choice," says Georgia's 1st District Congressman Jack Kingston who was in Savannah Monday.
"Philosophically, I would support whatever we need to fight wars. And if the military says we no longer need that system, then we shouldn't do it just because there are direct jobs in it," said Kingston. Soft landings are important for these towns, but the military does not exist for economic development."
Still, Kingston stopped short of saying he would vote to cancel the tanks, he just promises to listen to both sides. Maybe that promise is based in part on his own knowledge that places in his own district like Hinesville also rely on military related jobs. Kingston admits politics and lobbying from defense contractors are often part of decisions.
In the case of the tanks, the facility where manufacturing takes place is owned by the government but actually operated by General Dynamics. Kingston admits the company does have a powerful lobby, but also says any community that relies on the military for its overall economy almost always gets involved in the lobbying efforts as well.
Kingston says local communities from here to Ohio are of course concerned about jobs, but he says budget issues should be number one. "In this time where the national debt is 4 trillion dollars and we borrow 42 cents out of every dollar, we have to make some very very though decisions."