President Barack Obama was right to cancel his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but now must end a misguided plan to buy Russian helicopters for Afghanistan, former Congressman Pete Hoekstra says.
"This is a good first step for the president," Hoekstra, a Michigan Republican, told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
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"[But] there's another step that the president could take that a lot of members of Congress have had a lot of concerns about. … The Pentagon is poised to buy over $500 million of Russian helicopters and give them to the Afghan government.
"This is a no-brainer. That order should be canceled. If we're going to be giving helicopters to the Afghanis, why don't we give them the world's best and give them some American helicopters?"
Hoekstra said the Afghans have supposedly expressed a preference to have Russian helicopters to use once U.S. troops completely withdraw.
But he noted that the United States has plenty of top-notch surplus helicopters now sitting in storage.
"We could refurbish them, get them out of the mothball fleet, and give them to Afghanistan. ... There's no reason for us to be supporting Russian jobs, the Russian economy," he said.
"Last I looked, the American economy was still struggling and we should be creating those jobs right here in the United States."
Hoekstra, who represented Michigan's 2nd congressional district from 1993 to 2011, believes Obama’s last-minute summit pullout won’t bother Putin.
"No, I've met Putin. I don’t think this worries him at all. This guy feels energized, he feels emboldened," he said.
"I don't think Putin's intimidated all. He sees a weak America, he sees a weak administration, and I'm sure as he goes to bed tonight, he'll sleep and this will not be a major concern that will keep him awake."
On the subject of Obamacare, Hoekstra said Republican lawmakers "should go for all they can get in terms of defunding all of it or defunding parts of it as they go through the next couple months."
That's because once the Affordable Care Act goes into effect, there’s little chance of turning back, he believes.
"I do have a real fear that once major portions of Obamacare are implemented, it's done. And so this really may be the last best chance to significantly change it or to get rid of it totally," Hoekstra said.
"The best thing to do is to delay it for a year. Dave Camp, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, he's arguing for that, just saying there's too many pieces that are broken that aren't ready for prime time. Delay it for a year."
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