When an Air Force report revealed that some A-10 combat planes at Barksdale Air Force Base could be cut or transferred next year under a proposed defense budget plan, Louisiana’s two U.S. senators and the congressman who represents Barksdale were quick to say, “Not in my back yard.”
Not surprising, of course. Members of Congress have been protective of their turfs ever since the First Continental Congress held its initial meeting in 1774. That posture has not changed over centuries.
If that philosophy is followed by all members of Congress, it means that nothing in the federal budget would ever be cut because all budget cuts adversely impact a state or congressional district.
To be sure, the “not in my back yard” attitude cuts across party lines.
As military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are reduced, Pentagon officials have said they will make major cuts in defense programs. One plan to save money is retiring 200 aircraft in fiscal 2013.
Air Force officials would retire or re-classify aircraft from seven squadrons, including five A-10 squadrons, one F-16 squadron, and one F-15 training squadron. Twenty-one A-10s at Barksdale would be retired and three other A-10s at the base would be transferred.
In separate letters, Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana’s two senators, urged Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to make sure that programs at Barksdale and Fort Polk remain intact.
Fourth District Republican U.S. Rep. John Fleming of Minden, who represents Barksdale, blasted the proposed cuts, saying the administration has repeatedly targeted military programs.
So the battle begins. It is reminiscent of the dreaded “base closing list” of yesteryear. In 1992, Louisiana’s congressional delegation fought to keep England Air Force at Alexandria, which opened in 1942, from being closed. The effort was unsuccessful.
Seniority and committee assignments of members of Congress do play a role in such budget cuts. The fact that Landrieu is a subcommittee chair on the important Senate Appropriations Committee is a plus.
So is the fact that Vitter serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee and Fleming serves on the House Armed Services Committee. Those could prove to be influential positions in warding off defense cuts.
Budget-cutting decisions usually become very political. We’ll see how Louisiana comes out in the months ahead. Obviously, budget cuts will also involve areas other than defense.
How much are you worth?
Do you have to be rich to run for president? What do you think? Here is the net worth of some recent presidential candidates:
*Ross Perot (I-Reform) – $3.58 billion.
*Steve Forbes (Republican) – $450 million.
*Mitt Romney (Republican) – $250 million.
*John Kerry (Democrat) – $240 million.
*Al Gore (Democrat) – $100 million.
*Bill Clinton (Democrat) – $85 million.
*Hillary Clinton (Democrat) – $85 million.
*Jon Huntsman (Republican) – $70 million.
*Rudy Giuliani (Republican) – $65 million.
*John Edwards (Democrat) – $45 million.
An aside: The Clintons and Perot are from Arkansas.
Those dreaded polls
As if the Republican presidential preference primary has not been topsy-turvy enough, the latest poll from the Pew Research Center, taken February 8-12, shows that former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Rick Santorium has moved to the top of the heap for the first time. The results:
Santorum 30%, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney 28%, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich 17%, and Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul 12%.
Here is the bad news. The Republican primary has gotten negative and nasty as the candidates cut one another to shreds in trying to gain a foot-hole on the nomination.
As a result, Democratic President Barack Obama’s approval numbers continue to go up. His approval rating is closing in on 50%.
But more telling is how Obama matches up in trial heats against the potential Republican nominee. Here are the results from Pew’s poll:
*Obama leads Santorum 53-43%.
*Obama leads Romney 52-44%.
*Obama leads Gingrich 57-39%.
The latest Fox News poll, conducted February 6-9, has these results:
*Obama leads Romney 47-42%
*Obama leads Santorum 50-30%.
*Obama leads Gingrich 51-38%.
*Obama leads Paul 48-38%.
*Obama leads former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush 50-36%.
by Lou Gehrig Burnett, Publisher of Fax-Net, a North Louisiana publication.
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