Politicians, not Army, know best on tank purchase

No nation on earth has an armored vehicle capable of standing up to the U.S. Abrams tank. On conventional battlefields, it is virtually unbeatable. Yet the Army doesn’t want any more of the deadly behemoths. It has plenty and, besides, the generals understand they need to put more emphasis on unconventional warfare.

But the Army will be getting $436 million worth of new Abrams tanks, Congress has decreed.

Why? Because producing tanks provides jobs and some lawmakers don’t want to have to explain closed armaments factories to their constituents. Ohio, with a tank plant in Lima, is affected by plans for the new Abrams models

“If we had our choice, we would use that money in a different way,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno told The Associated Press last week.

The Abrams is far from the only case of military spending dictated by politics. Some taxpayers still have not forgotten the hundreds of millions of dollars wasted on designing two engines instead of one for a new jet fighter plane.

Political spending for the military not only wastes taxpayers’ dollars, but also diverts resources for more important armed service needs. U.S. Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, would do an enormous service for the military by leading a move to kill the plan to waste $436 million on new tanks.

Printers, especially those doing high-volume jobs requiring special paper and techniques, sometimes encounter challenges that delay production. We’re in the printing business. We understand that.

But two and one-half years to get creases out of the finished paper production? Good heavens. Most customers would find someone else to do their printing rather than accept such a delay. One set of customers – Uncle Sam’s – can’t do that.

New types of currency with all sorts of sophisticated features to guard against counterfeiting have been in circulation for a few years. But $100 bills are not among them.

Originally, the new C-note was to debut in February 2011. In December 2010, the Federal Reserve revealed there would be a delay. According to The Associated Press, officials “said they needed more time to fix production issues that left unwanted creases in many of the notes.” Yes, creases.

Now the Federal Reserve says the new bills will go into circulation this October. Ben Franklin, whose portrait adorns the $100 bill, was a printer, too. Somehow, we doubt he was thinking of a fiasco like this one when he commented, “Time is money.”