To its bipartisan critics - from former President George W. Bush to President Barack Obama to Defense Secretary Robert Gates - spending more money on an "alternative" engine for the F-35 fighter jet is a boondoggle.

To its bipartisan proponents -from Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio to GOP House Speaker-designate John Boehner of West Chester - spending more money on a "competitive" engine is a boon that ultimately lowers costs, boosts national security, improves the Joint Strike Fighter's reliability and creates hundreds of jobs.

For anyone looking for an example of why killing off earmarks will not be easy, look no further than the debate over the F-35 alternative/competitive engine.

About a thousand of those engine jobs are to be found in Ohio, in General Electric Aviation's plant outside Cincinnati. That's a not-so-subtle clue as to why the liberal Brown and conservative Boehner, normally at loggerheads over just about everything, are singing the same tune about the F-35.

Before the 111 {+t}{+h} Congress adjourned its lame-duck session and headed home, Brown celebrated the inclusion of continued funding for the backup-engine program in the spending bill that keeps the government running at 2010 levels until March 4.

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