Even as veteran observers of the Congressional appropriations process, we are shocked, and outraged, by the provision in the Defense Appropriations bill that would have the Air Force lease Boeing 767s at a price dramatically higher than the cost of direct purchase. We are writing to urge you to take to the floor to speak and vote against this specific siphoning of taxpayer money to the Boeing company.
Leave aside the serious questions about whether the Air Force wants or needs the 767s, and simply consider the economics of this sugar-coated deal:
Under the Boeing lease provision, the Air Force will lease 100 Boeing 767s for use as tankers, at a pricetag of $20 million per plane per year, over a 10-year period. This $20 billion expenditure is far higher than the cost of direct purchase. The government will accrue extra expenses because it will be obligated not only to convert the commercial aircraft to military configurations; when the 10-year lease is over, it will be required to convert them back to commercial format, at an estimated cost of $30 million apiece. Senator John McCain says the cost of the lease plan is five times higher than an outright purchase would be. Senator Phil Gramm says, “I do not think, in the 22 years I have been here, I have ever seen anything to equal this.”
There is no conceivable rationale for such a waste of taxpayer resources. If some in Congress believe Boeing needs to be subsidized, then they should propose direct subsidies to the company, and let Congress fully debate and vote on the issue before the American people, following comprehensive public hearings on the proposal.
This is not a partisan issue. It is a basic test of whether Congress views itself as fundamentally accountable to the public interest, both procedurally and substantively.
There will obviously be a Defense Appropriations bill passed for the coming fiscal year. But it must not be one that includes such a gross exhibition of corporate welfare. We urge you to speak and vote against the bill; and to force consideration of a revised bill, stripped of this grotesquery.
Americans for Tax Reform
Thomas A. Schatz
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
Congressional Accountability Project
Alliance for Democracy (organization listed for identification only)
Vice President for Communications
National Taxpayers Union
Project on Government Oversight
Taxpayers for Common Sense