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How They Killed the F-22

3:43 PM, Jul 27, 2009 • By JOHN NOONAN
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An interesting report from the Washington Post claims that the White House launched an "aggressive, coordinated effort" to slash the fifth generation fighter from the defense budget:

When a showdown vote loomed on July 15, Senate Democratic leaders who backed Obama's effort to scuttle the program did not think they had the votes to win. There was opposition in their own caucus: Sen. Patty Murray wanted the F-22 funding (and ultimately supported it in the final Senate vote, as did her fellow Democratic senator from Washington and the two Democratic senators from California). There were only about 20 votes that could be counted on to scrap the F-22 program, and even with those undecided and leaning, "we didn't crack 50," a Senate aide said.

So they put off the vote by shifting attention to a provision in the defense bill to expand protections under laws against hate crimes. That gave the Obama administration several days to restart its lobbying effort to win the vote. That afternoon, the administration, in a statement from the Office of Budget and Management, repeated the veto threat, emphasizing the point by underlining the sentence.

"People had to ask: Did we want this to be the first time he vetoed a bill from Congress?" said one senior Democratic Senate aide.

Why did the White House fight so furiously against the jet's sustainment? Raising an objection to F-22 acquisition is one thing, launching a Napoleonic campaign -- over the objections of both Congress and the military -- is excessive. There were some serious, deeply intelligent strategic thinkers who had some equally serious, intelligent justifications for building a larger fleet of Raptors. Considering the fighter's admittedly steep price is but a drop in the health care/stimulus bucket, it's a little hard to believe the administration's only motivation was to eliminate waste in the defense budget.