Today the Senate finally voted on the Defense Authorization Bill amendment which would eliminate the $1.75 bn set aside for more F-22s. In a 58-40 vote, the Senate made the sensible decision to halt production on the F-22 after intense lobbying from President Obama, Sec. Gates, and Vice President Biden. Ever since campaign season, both Obama and McCain have been fairly consistent in challenging the defense establishment over unnecessary programs, but this is a victory in a small battle in the midst of a much larger war.
Still too many expensive and unnecessary weapons programs remain. And the ones that are being looked at for the future (Joint Strike Fighter), are not necessarily the best equipment financially and strategically. The entrenched special interests still have significant clout when it comes to the defense budget, and we saw this in action over the fight for the F-22. Laws like the Levin-McCain Act are a good first step, but I'm not quite convinced they go far enough.
Until the iron triangle of Congress, defense contractors, and the Pentagon focuses on making the necessary difficult choices that every other branch of government has to make, the same problems will likely persist. We will continue to hear the same arguments that these weapons programs are integral to securing our nation, and thousands of jobs are going to be lost. It's the nature of the beast.