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Taxpayer Group to Defense Secretary, Congress: Cut Losses, Cancel Funds for Unwanted Air-Defense Missile Program Now
March 9, 2011
By Douglas Kellogg
(Alexandria, VA) – The Pentagon should not wait two years to cut off funding for a troubled missile defense program it has already decided not to put into production, according to the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU). This week NTU called on Defense Secretary Robert Gates to immediately terminate the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) and save taxpayer dollars, instead of spending $804 million to complete an unwanted development phase.
In a letter to Secretary Gates, NTU Executive Vice President Pete Sepp wrote, “I urge you to work with our partners in Italy and Germany as well as Members of Congress toward an immediate, fiscally satisfactory termination of the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) program. Since Comptroller Hale’s announcement last month that the United States would not proceed with deploying MEADS, the case for ending all funding now, instead of in 2013, has only grown stronger.
In defending continued MEADS spending, Pentagon officials have pointed to potential termination penalties of $1 billion. However, experts disagree, some estimating the cost at $500 million or less. Irrespective of the exact figure, the tripartite-cost-sharing arrangement should insulate the U.S. from paying the full penalties.
“Based on the legislative climate, the pulse of our allies, and the urgency of regaining control over federal deficit spending, we believe that conditions are ripe to reconsider the current funding arrangement and reach a more equitable accord,” Sepp wrote. “As a result, the federal government will also be in a better position to afford critical upgrades to other systems, in air defense and in other areas.”
The National Taxpayers Union has been a leader for fiscal responsibility in military spending. For example, NTU has worked to end funding for the unnecessary F-35 alternate engine, and recently issued a joint report with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group highlighting spending cuts, which included over $288 billion in defense-related savings.
The 362,000-member NTU is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working for lower taxes, smaller government, and economic freedom at all levels. Note: The letter to Secretary Gates, along with more information on NTU’s defense-policy work, is available at www.ntu.org.