Sleight of Mouth

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MCC Sam Shavers / U.S. Navy

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus testifying before Congress.

Sometimes it’s tough to tell when you’re being misled.

Take this (barely) edited exchange Tuesday between Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus at a hearing into the Navy’s proposed 2014 budget before the defense subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee:

REP. CALVERT: Is there any major procurement program that you know of that’s on budget and on schedule?

SEC. MABUS: Yes, there are.

REP. CALVERT: Just to make us all feel good.

SEC. MABUS: The Virginia class submarine, the DDG-51 [destroyer], LCS  [Littoral Combat Ship] —


SEC. MABUS: Yes, it is.

REP. CALVERT: Isn’t the price — the price on that has gone significantly in the last several years.

SEC. MABUS: The price on that has actually come down by more than 40% from the first four ships that were built…

REP. CALVERT: But the initial cost of those ships, those original four, weren’t — aren’t they substantially higher than they thought they were going to go?

SEC. MABUS: I’m sorry –

REP. CALVERT: Wasn’t the original four LCS ships substantially more expensive than what we thought they were going to be?

SEC. MABUS: Absolutely, and it was a program that was –

REP. CALVERT: They’re bringing them down 40%, that’s getting them back to just a little bit more than what we thought that was going to be…

SEC. MABUS: You’re absolutely right.