The M1 Abrams tank has survived the Cold War, two conflicts in Iraq and a decade of war in Afghanistan. But now the machine finds itself a target in an unusual battle between the Defense Department and lawmakers who are the beneficiaries of large donations by its manufacturer.
The Pentagon, facing smaller budgets and looking towards a new global strategy, has decided it wants to save as much as $3 billion by freezing refurbishment of the M1 from 2014 to 2017, so it can redesign the hulking, clanking vehicle from top to bottom.
Opposing the Pentagon’s plans is Abrams manufacturer General Dynamics, a nationwide employer that has pumped millions of dollars into congressional elections over the last decade.
After putting the tank money back in the budget then, both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees have again authorized it this year — $181 million in the House and $91 million in the Senate. If the company and its supporters prevail, the Army will refurbish what Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno described in a February hearing as “280 tanks that we simply do not need.”
There you have it. Congress gets cash from tank manufacturer, then funds unnecessary tanks that the Pentagon doesn't even want. But to "save money," Regressives cut teachers, cops and firefighters' jobs.