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Press Release


Wasteful Transport Plane Still Belongs in Budget Scrap Heap, Taxpayer Group Tells Rumsfeld

For Immediate Release February 24, 2005

(Alexandria) -- Last-ditch attempts to block reductions in the controversial C-130J transport aircraft won't fly with overburdened taxpayers and shouldn't fly with budget-conscious public officials - that's the message the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU) sent to Donald Rumsfeld today, amidst news that the Defense Secretary was reconsidering his decision to cancel future purchases of the troubled plane. NTU was among several citizen groups, including the Project on Government Oversight and Taxpayers for Common Sense, which urged Rumsfeld to follow through on his original intent to terminate the program.

"Through most of its service life the C-130J has proven better at lifting tax dollars than military cargo and personnel," said NTU Vice President for Communications Pete Sepp. "P-R campaigns from C-130J advocates shouldn't sway Secretary Rumsfeld from his courageous stance that this low-priority program ought to be grounded."

Today Sepp sent a letter to Secretary Rumsfeld noting that "Even though supporters of the program point to C-130J's recent improvements in certain performance categories, as well as its service record in other nations' air forces, the preponderance of evidence continues to show that termination of the program is the best option for taxpayers and the military. From 1998 through 2004, authoritative sources such as the Government Accountability Office and the Defense Department Inspector General have documented the aircraft's numerous performance deficiencies." Sepp also reminded the Secretary of last month's unflattering report on C-130J's flaws in defensive and other systems by the Defense Department's Office of Test and Evaluation.

In addition to NTU's letter, the Project on Government Oversight and Taxpayers for Common Sense today sent a joint statement to Rumsfeld urging him to "end the overpriced, unneeded, and problem-plagued C-130J program."

On January 3, NTU Director of Government Affairs Paul J. Gessing sent a letter of support to Secretary Rumsfeld for his decision to cut purchases of the F/A-22 Raptor program, calling the move one of many vital "steps in transforming the military into a lighter, better, and hopefully less-costly 20th Century fighting force." During the 108thCongress, NTU consistently supported proposals in Congress to offset supplemental requests for defense purchases by spending reductions elsewhere in the federal budget (including other military programs of lesser importance).

"As with any defense program under scrutiny for cancellation, the C-130J's proponents have sought to minimize ... past difficulties and paint a rosier future for the aircraft's military and fiscal performance," Sepp's letter to Rumsfeld concluded. "Nonetheless, taxpayers should not be forced to gamble an additional $5 billion on this doubtful outcome. ...Given the persistence of budget deficits and the prominence of other military needs, terminating C-130J continues to be the wise move."

NTU is a non-profit, non-partisan citizen group founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes and smaller government at all levels. Note: NTU's February 24 and January 3 letters to Secretary Rumsfeld, along with other budget and defense policy materials, are available at www.ntu.org.

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