"The manufacturing of tanks — powerful but cumbersome — is no longer essential, the military says."
That's from a Washington Post article on the debate over whether we need to build more tanks.
If the U.S. Army doesn't want to buy tanks, why is there a debate over this? Here are two reasons: (1) all politics is local, and (2) K Street. That is, (1) congressmen see tank-making as a good jobs program for their districts, and (2) tank makers see tank-making as good profit.
Veronique de Rugy, a senior research fellow of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, puts it this way:
One of the many reasons why it’s hard to shrink the size of government is that even when a program has ran its course, or when it’s not needed anymore, the interest groups that benefit from it will fight to keep it going, and Congress is happy to side with special interests at the expenses of taxpayers.
Here's some relevant background:
BAE, the tank maker discussed in the Post story, has spent about $25 million lobbying in the Obama era. The company's lobbyists include:
* Steven Hyjek ("From 1981 to 1986, Mr. Hyjek served as a Congressional Liaison Representative for the Secretary of the Army.")
* Former top Homeland Security and Defense Intelligence Agency aide Sharon Hardie.
* Tony Podesta, brother and co-founder of a lobbying firm with Obama confidant John Podesta. Podesta recently paid about $50,000 in realtor fees to the husband of Mary Landrieu, chairwoman of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.
And plenty of other former Defense Department and Hill aides.