Initial projections from 2001 had these planes being combat ready and in full production by 2012, but the most recent estimates don’t have the planes being combat-capable until 2018, and a recent memo from the Pentagon’s director of operational testing obtained by Bloomberg News suggests it could take even longer unless there are additional increases in development funding.
A recent Government Accountability Office report also illustrates how costs for development and acquisition have spiraled upward from initial projections. Total program costs are likely to exceed $1.37 trillion, with $379 billion set aside for acquisition of planes and another $1 trillion projected to be needed for fleet maintenance. If President-elect Trump keeps his promise to save billions of dollars on military programs like this one, where else could that money be invested with increased dividends?
Doing this will improve the lives and futures of millions of children, help close the huge unjust opportunity gaps, and eventually save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars annually. The $500 billion a year it costs our nation now to keep more than 14.5 million children in poverty is six times more than the $77 billion investment we propose to reduce child poverty by 60 percent. Child poverty is way too expensive to continue especially when we have other clear choices.
From the same $1.37 trillion the Pentagon is projected to spend on the non-working, grossly over-budget F-35 program, the nation could take steps to reduce child poverty by 60 percent for nearly 18 years — the entire life of a generation of children.
With the exorbitant costs of the F-35 program under new scrutiny the obvious solution is right in front of our eyes. What will we do with it?
President Dwight Eisenhower, a former five-star general, reminded us that: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies…a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, and the hope of its children.”
Yet we are spending $46.7 billion a month; $10.7 billion a week; $1.5 billion a day; $64 million an hour; $1.1 million a minute; and $17,757 a second on the military. Let’s agree with Trump on this one and seize this opportunity right now to make another choice by putting children first.