Why not an F-22 stimulus?

If the Obama administration wants government to provide a real economic stimulus while benefiting taxpayers, defense infrastructure would certainly help in both jobs and in actual defense.  The F-22A Raptor seems to qualify on both counts.  The program employs 95,000 people, has over a thousand suppliers, and its advocates estimate its impact on the economy at $12 billion.

So why is the Raptor under consideration for the chopping block?  From last November:

Gates’s transition staff, led by special assistant Robert Rangel, has also mapped out key events for the first 90 days of the new administration — such as NATO meetings and budget submissions, as well as decisions on deployments and the F-22A Raptor fighter jet.

Debate centers around whether the F-22A should get more development or whether the Pentagon should look to the next generation of fighters in the F-35 Lightning II.  However, the Lightning II won’t start delivering until 2011, while the military needs more capability now.  The F-22A has a fully operational production line and supply support and can continue producing aircraft now while the Pentagon waits for the F-35.

It seems to me that both fighter projects produce more stimulus than most of what we have in HR1.  It certainly creates more jobs than contraception subsidies, Hollywood pork, Medicare expansion, and much of what Democrats pass off as “stimulus” at the moment.  Not only does the F-22A production create and maintain jobs, they are well-compensated manufacturing jobs, which the US needs now more than ever to help sustain an economic revival.  Plus, the project actually delivers useful product for national defense and for export to our allies (if approved for export), rather than just digging ditches or resodding the National Mall.

Plus, also unlike most of the stimulus, production can continue immediately, rather than wait for 12-18 months for ramp-up time.

Extending the life of the F-22A seems like a no-brainer for a government looking for stimulus.