EXCLUSIVE Joe Biden op-ed


We decided this piece wasn’t worth bumping some local writer or one of our syndicated columnists for, our op-ed space in the paper being so limited these days. Besides, we keep the bar pretty high for candidates wanting to use our space for free media. (Calling it "exclusive" didn’t do it. We appreciate it, but we pretty much expect that; why use precious space for something people can read anywhere?)

Fortunately, the threshold is considerably lower here on Brad Warthen’s Blog. So you can read it here.

Dear Brad and editorial team:
    Please see below the following op-ed penned below by Sen. Joe Biden.  As you probably know, Sen. Biden will be in South Carolina tomorrow.  With the many military bases and training facilities in SC, we believe this op-ed on the new MRAP vehicle would be very pertinent to your readers and hope you will consider its publication.
    We are offering this op-ed as an EXCLUSIVE to the State Newspaper and look forward to hearing from you on whether you choose to publish. 

Elizabeth Alexander
Press Secretary for U.S. Senator Joe Biden

No Price Tag on Protecting our Troops
By Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
    Road side bombs are by far the most lethal weapons used against Americans in Iraq.  They account for seventy percent of our casualties.  So if we had the technology to cut these casualties by two-thirds, it is safe to assume that the Bush Administration would spend whatever is necessary, as quickly as it could, to get that technology into the field, right?
    The President’s emergency spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan significantly short-changed the budget for new Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles.  They have a v-shaped hull that offers four to five times the protection of the armored Humvee. 
    Right now, only a few hundred MRAPs are in service in Iraq.  The Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force need 7,774 vehicles, costing a total of $8.4 billion. The Administration’s plan was to spend $2.3 billion this year and $6.1 billion next year.  However, the military believed they could accelerate production at the eight manufacturers (one of which is right here in South Carolina) if we gave them adequate funding.
    As Army Chief of Staff General Schoomaker told the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this month: "We can build what we can get the funds to build.  It’s strictly an issue of money."
    The President’s emergency budget under-funded MRAPS by $1.5 billion. So I introduced an amendment to the emergency budget to add the necessary funds and it passed the Senate unanimously. If the House agrees and the President signs the budget into law, we now can manufacture and deploy 2,500 more vehicles by December 2007, six months earlier than we would have under the President’s plan. 
    $1.5 billion is a lot of money, but it is money we were going to spend next year anyway.  The pay-off for spending it now is literally priceless.   Each vehicle means four to twelve Americans in the field get four to five times more protection than they have now.   That means 10,000 to 30,000 more soldiers and marines will be protected sooner than later.
     So, the question is, do you want to spend the $1.5 billion now and save lives, or go with the current schedule and spend it next year?  Do you want 10,000 to 30,000 more soldiers and marines to be protected in December? 
    For me, the bottom line is simple:  get as many of these vehicles as possible into the field as quickly as possible to protect our troops. 
    Their safety is our first responsibility.

The author, Joseph R. Biden, Jr., is the senior Senator from Delaware and Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

The "tomorrow" in the intro was a reference to Saturday. This was sent on Friday; we only rejected it today.


12 thoughts on “EXCLUSIVE Joe Biden op-ed

  1. bud

    So you can run 3, count ’em 3 articles about DOT reform in Sunday’s paper but you can’t make room for an important discussion about the safety of our troops in a war that you support!!! The priorities of the State Newspaper are shameful, just shameful.

  2. Doug Ross

    A good chunk of that $1.5 billion is going to Canada, South Africa, and Israel.
    “The GDLS vehicles are part of a partnership with South Africa based BAE OMC. This partnership is managed by GDLS-Canada, and orders are signed through a Crown Agency of the Canadian Government named the Canadian Commercial Corporation. This group is already supplying a total of 424 RG-31 “Pathfinder” vehicles, including 265 of the uprated Mk5s for the U.S. Army and US Special Operations Command (SOCOM). The RG-31 is currently the USA’s de facto standard “Category 1 MRAP” vehicle in theater, and it has also been successful with Canadian forces in Afghanistan.”
    “Protected Vehicles, Inc. (PVI) in North Charleston, SC are also receiving a $37.4 million delivery order of their own for 60 Category II MRAP vehicles (M67854-07-D-5027). To meet this requirement, they are offering the 33,000 pound/ 15,000 kg gross vehicle weight “Golan.”
    The Golan is a design collaboration with RAFAEL of Israel and the Merkava tank program Office (Mantak);”
    Ask Joe Biden if he thinks South Africa and Canada are where we should be putting our defense dollars.

  3. Brad Warthen

    What are you talking about, bud? On Sunday, we had three pieces on the op-ed page: A Broder about the presidential race, a Krauthammer about Iraq and a local piece about education reform. On the edit page we had an editorial about school discipline policies, a column from me about abortion, and letters to the editor.

    Not that there would have been anything wrong about writing about DOT reform again; there’s probably no greater example of our Legislature’s refusal to give us anything resembling an accountable form of government. Joe Biden has thousands of outlets for putting out whatever view he wants on war and peace, domestic issues, the weather, or whatever he chooses. And you have access to those outlets. If The State doesn’t tell you what’s happening in Columbia, you’re not going to hear about it. Even if you get it from another source, they probably got it from us, directly or indirectly.

    THAT is the responsibility that would be a "shame" to forsake.

  4. bud

    I may have my days mixed up but there was one day this week with 3 citations about the DOT. It was the day Greg Ryberg talked about this. Ms. Scoppe also weighed in and there was some sort of mention in the main editorial column.
    You cannot deny that the State is obsessing over this thing. I actually even agree with you (in general at least) on this issue but it’s just not that important. The roads continue to get built and paved. We just opened a much needed new bridge in Charleston. The highway 6 widening between Lexington and Irmo is well on the way to completion. I-126 was just recently re-surfaced. Roads gallore are being built in Horry County. What pressing need is not getting done by the DOT?
    And besides, the DOT executive director did lose her job. That indicates a certain level of accountability at work. I just think you’re overstating the urgency of this issue.

  5. bud

    Doug writes: “Ask Joe Biden if he thinks South Africa and Canada are where we should be putting our defense dollars.”
    I hope Joe would say that the security of our soldiers is more important than domestic trade considerations.

  6. Brad Warthen

    bud, the DOT itself will tell you that it is years and years behind in maintenance, especially on secondary roads. This is considered a factor in our extremely high traffic death rates, not to mention economic development.
    Horry County has indeed been getting what it wants, because it currently has pull on the commission, which is why it wants to keep the current system at the expense of other parts of the state. Tracy Edge recently said as much.
    Yes, the director left after lawmakers, who had done everything they could to protect her for years, ran out of ways to do so. The mess just got too big. Then they went to a new story, saying she’s gone, so we don’t need to do anything else. Then, in the face of continuing demands for reform (much of it coming from us), they admitted that things were a mess with the current commissioners, so maybe some or all of them need to be replaced.
    The fact remains that as long as there is a commission, it will be easy to hide the corrupting effect of the influence of individual lawmakers on transportation decisions. Only getting rid of the commission will fix the problem, which is why they refuse even to seriously debate the idea of getting rid of the commission.
    It takes a lot of light, shining continuously, to illuminate anything with so many dark corners. We’ll keep doing that.

  7. Tom McDonald

    The Cougar and Buffalo MRAP vehicles built in South Carolina have been used in IRAQ since 2004. While I am glad Biden is in support of them, why has the Pentagon and Congress waited so long to deploy them in large masses? While expensive, the Cougar and Buffalo will ensure our Troops travel in the most advanced bomb resistant vehicles – And are worth every cent.

  8. bud

    No room for Biden to articulate a relatively obscure but very important issue concerning troop safety but plenty of room to allow Graham and Demint to blather on about the flaws in the recent legislation to fund our troops in Iraq. Talk about an issue that’s been talked to death. The point that adding pork to an otherwise terrific bill (to set a timeline for bringing our troops hope while providing funding for now) has been presented many times by many people. Few disagree that the pork didn’t belong in that bill. And if a few more senators would come to their senses and vote for a good bill without the pork we wouldn’t have to resort to these tactics.
    Lindsey Graham and Jim Demint should be ashamed of themselves for continuing to support the disasterous policy of imperialistic occupation. And the State Newspaper should provide a bit of balance. The continued one-sided coverage by the State is sickening.

  9. Rugs

    The first paragraph swipe at Bush shows this isn’t about protecting the troops it’s just a political maneuver. The only thing that turns my stomach more than the thought of kids dying in battle is how people use it politically.

  10. bill

    I’ve heard all The State’s decisions are made by Steve Spurrier.Is it true that the paper is changing its name to The Gamecock Gazette?

  11. Brad Warthen

    Elizabeth Alexander called to make sure we don’t mind if they now submitted the piece to a Delaware paper.
    That seemed exceedingly nice of her, since the way I look at it, when we reject something, it’s hard for us to complain if it goes elsewhere.
    She said she had read it on my blog. I thought for a moment I had a fan, but I should have known better. She had been alerted by Google.

  12. Dave

    Bud, I think that Joe Biden would say that Barak Obama is a “clean” black candidate. And Joe is from a slave state. Quite a guy.

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