There are two competing engines for the Joint Strike Fighter. Congress spent $465 million just in 2010 on one of them, the F136, and, if the program isn't halted, it will spend between $1.9 billion and $2.9 billion more in the next six years on it. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says the F136 isn't needed, and Preisdent Obama has said he will veto any legislation containing funding for the engine. But the lame duck session of Congress passed a resolution that will continue funding until March 4 for all current programs, including the F136, which is just dandy for the folks in Terre Haute:
The F136 engine is important for Terre Haute since some of its parts are made by Unison Engine Components, a high-tech manufacturing business on South Third Street. Continued federal funding for the F136 would mean up to 200 new jobs and millions of dollars in new investment at Unison, local economic development officials have said.
[. . .]
Many members of Congress, however, including Indiana Sens. Richard Lugar and Evan Bayh, favor the engine program, which provides hundreds of jobs in many states.
“Senator Lugar supports the engine,” said Mark Hayes, press secretary for the Indiana Republican. Bayh, a Democrat, is also a strong supporter of the engine. In 2009, Bayh authored an amendment guaranteeing further development of the F136. That amendment, however, was defeated by the full Senate.
The program "provides hundreds of jobs in many states." That's a succinct description of how pork barrel spending works, and it shows why Washington never gets downsized, no matter how much hot air is expended on behalf of fiscal responsibility. It doesn't matter whether something the federal government does is needed or even makes sense. As long as it conributes to the "economic development" for the folks back home, what's a legislator to do?