Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, wrote President Bush Thursday asking him to cancel the C-17 cargo plane program, which he described as both a "turkey" and a "sitting duck."
He wrote the letter as part of his work on the Grace Caucus, a group formed to push for implementation of cost-saving recommendations made by the Grace Commission in 1984. One of those suggestions was eliminating the C-17."We should not regard it as a prized bird but as a sitting duck that should be plucked from the federal budget. A turkey is a turkey no matter what dressing you stuff inside it," he said.
Owens added that the C-17 offers no new technology and duplicates the capabilities of other airplanes now in the Air Force stock. He said simply building more of the current models would cost $10 million less than the C-17 program.
He wrote that the reason Congress approved funding the C-17, which Owens opposed, was "McDonnell Douglas Corp. had promised jobs in so many congressional districts that C-17 was unstoppable."
He said his own district stood to gain two hundred jobs producing stabilizer panels for the C-17, but that after Congress gave preliminary approval for the C-17, McDonnell canceled its plans to build C-17 parts in its plant near Salt Lake International Airport.
"It is difficult to oppose a program, no matter how costly or frivolous, when hometown jobs are at stake . . . . Unfortunately, the decision Congress ultimately made will cost American taxpayers $37 billion, largely because the appeal of new jobs distorted the true defense value of the C-17.
Owens said nearly $30 billion of the costly C-17 program is yet to be spent and urged Bush to cut the nation's losses.