It seems like ancient history now, but there was a time when Democrats were focused on Pentagon procurement, not just the scandal of $600 toilet seats and blunderbuss calls to cut the defense budget but a serious debate about the weapons systems we really need and how to avoid paying too much for them. Sen. Gary Hart was a leading advocate of this new thinking on defense and so was James Fallows whose book, National Defense, was the Bible of the movement.
My starting home in journalism, The Washington Monthly, long ran articles on topics of why the Air Force placed too small a priority on the small, but effective A-10 Warthog aircraft which is great at busting enemy tanks and was in love with vastly overpriced stealth bombers. Can President Barack Obama put an end to a procurement system that’s only gotten worse over the years?At a time of two wars and a recession, looking for cost cutting at the Pentagon isn’t going to be front and center on a president’s agenda but it needs to be there. Again, I’m not talking about the obvious cost overruns of a Halliburton or the issues about troop rotations that have disrupted the lives of so many members of the Armed Forces and their families. But the sheer process by which we buy multibillion dollar weapons systems. Hope to do much more on this in the coming weeks. We welcome the thoughts of TPM readers on this topic and any tips they wish to offer.