U.S. Rep. Jim Slattery, D-Kan., said Thursday that any money saved from halting the manufacture of B-2 Stealth bombers should be used to cut the federal deficit.
Slattery, who has been fighting the B-2 for two years, said limiting production to 20 bombers would save $25 billion. That money should go to deficit reduction, he said.
"We have a $350 billion deficit," Slattery said. "The president has to cut something."
News reports this week indicate President Bush will recommend in his State of the Union message Jan. 28 that production of the B-2 be stopped at 20 planes.
The Air Force originally sought 130 of the radar-evading planes, but later decided to settle for 75. Congress last year approved funds for only 15.
SLATTERY said he wants production limited to 15 planes.
"That's all we need at this time and that's all we can afford," he said.
Slattery said he intends to focus more attention on killing the proposed $10 billion supercollider science project if the president agrees to halt B-2 production.
"It takes an awful lot of time to kill one of these projects, where there is so much special-interest money behind it," Slattery said.
The 2nd District congressman takes personal credit for helping convince Bush of the need to scale back the B-2 project.
"A lot of politicians go home and talk about cutting wasteful government spending, but few can point to a specific one in which they've played a key role in helping terminate," he said.
SLATTERY said he opposes mass production of the B-2 because the bomber is too expensive, the plane can't be disguised from radar as promised, and because of the Soviet Union collapse.
"I don't believe the cost of this plane is justified," he said. "Given the world situation today, we can't justfy spending $1 billion on a plane like the B-2.
"This plane is not ready for mass production. There are many unanswered questions about its stealth qualities and the computers needed to operate it," he said.
Slattery said his opposition to the plane was determined before events in the Soviet Union unfolded, but the end of the Warsaw Pact solidifies his position.
It's unlikely Bush will attempt to reverse his position on the B-2 if he wins re-election in November, Slattery said.
"Not unless the world situation dramatically changes," he said.