So much for those Pentagon budget cuts. Back in January, Defense Department chieftains announced that they were paring $30 billion from their ledgers over the next six years. But it became instantly apparent that few, if any, of those trims were going to stick -- not with all those Congressmen and all those lobbyists and all those Pentagon bureaucrats lined up to keep inertia rolling. Sure enough, within days, senators and generals were pushing to restore the cuts to one of deepest-gouged programs, Lockheed Martin's C-130J Hercules cargo plane.040322-F-0000S-009.jpgToday, they got what they wanted. "Three months after Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld submitted a budget to Congress that would have killed the C-130J program, he now believes purchases of the Hercules transport should continue," reports Air Force Times. Rumsfeld said ending the program could cost as much as $1.6 billion. So next to nothing would be saved by a cancellation, he argued.Now, this wouldn't be so bad, if the plane worked. But it doesn't, according to Tom Christie, who heads the Pentagon's testing and evaluation office. He calls the C-130J "neither operationally effective nor operationally suitable." Sen. John McCain thinks the Hercules' is basically a giant hand-out to Lockheed. "We're going to have a C-130 in every schoolyard in America," he quipped during a 1999 presidential debate."The C-130J proves that pork flies. In the seven years that we, the taxpayers, have owned the planes, they have never been usable in combat," adds Project on Government Oversight executive director Danielle Brian. "This is Washington politics at its worst: when the legitimate needs of the troops are ignored by politicians pushing for pork."

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