In 2023, Republicans and Democrats are deeply divided on nearly every significant policy issue. But there is an exception to the rule. Both parties can always agree on sending more money to defense contractors. The agreement between President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to raise the debt limit for two years, if approved by the House and Senate, will avert a potential economic catastrophe. Biden started off demanding a "clean" debt limit increase with no extraneous provisions. McCarthy sought deep cuts in domestic discretionary spending and large increases in military spending in exchange for raising the debt limit.
I am so glad you wrote this piece. It is about time someone highlighted the defense industry’s abuse of our government, just like the oil companies who refused President Biden’s request to keep prices low during the pandemic and instead pulled in record profits. So much for”patriotism “!
1 Alabama Senator can hold up unlimited number of promotions in the military because - abortion. But no amount of "legislators" can stop out of control military spending for any reason. We are screwed.
There is only one word to describe the money Congress shovels at the Pentagon - OBSCENE. And that half of that obscene number goes directly to war profiteers who sell us planes that can't fly in the rain, ships that cannot perform the mission for which they were designed, vehicles that don't protect the soldiers from IEDs and hundreds of tanks, guns and other material that no one wants. No one except for the war profiteers themselves because that's what funds their yachts, third homes in the Hamptons, G-5s, and stock dividends on top of stock dividends. At what point do the people stand up and elect politicians who are not afraid to take this on? When the Pentagon consumes all of the budget not going to interest payments?
Admiral Rickover was famous for building and running the nuclear submarine fleet but his fight against waste and abuse by General Dynamics ended his career. In his valedictory speech President Eisenhower warned of the power of the military-industrial complex. Sixty three years later, things are much, much worse.
Judd and PI read my mind. I had a conversation about this in the comments with another subscriber on Robert Reich's Substack.
Lots of these programs look more like boondoggles. A shoulder fired rocket equaling the cost of a decent single family home each time you fire one. The F35 delivering late, seeming to always have more problems than Greg Oden's knees, blowing through its initial development and operating budget estimates with one estimate of lifetime cost I saw at $1.5T. We're way past the good old days of the $500 toilet seat.
As I wrote there, this will continue as long as Democrats are unsuccessful, or not even trying, to decouple the idea that all defense spending is for the troops and American safety, and that any talk of cuts shows hate for America and the troops. We should be safe but we can do it with a lot less waste.
I believe it’s time to use our anti-trust laws to break up these defense contractors (and many other companies) into smaller companies so there is at least the appearance of competition -- then make them show what it costs to produce their products so these costs are available for the government and the general public to see.
There's so much waste by the Pentagon that if it were reeled in we could fund Medicare for every American plus have paid sick leave and paid preschool too without raising taxes and possibly even cutting them for the poorest families.
I also believe we need to put some effective restrictions on how many lobbyists are allowed to operate in this country. And that should count for everything, not just the military-industrial complex.
I believe if Eisenhower were alive he would recommend that and so would Teddy Roosevelt.
Robbery plain & simple with no oversight. People gripe about Wall Street but defense contractors are much worse. They overcharge on costs and get fat & profitable and no one can say a thing for fear of being called unpatriotic or not caring about the safety of our troops.
So the GOP demands that poor folks document up the wazoo to get a few hundred dollars in food stamps, but military contractors can hide all the data and provide zero paperwork to get billions of dollars. Sounds like corporate welfare queens to me.
I seem to recall parents having to send their sons bulletproof vests in Afghanistan because troops weren't getting adequate supply of equipment.
I think I've reached my outrage quotient. There's not a damn thing I can do about any of this stuff. It's one thing after another. No wonder people go into hibernation from the outside world.
Thanks for putting the Pentagon, defense contractors, and the craven entities we call political parties under your devastating scrutiny. Can this light of reason cause them to reconsider, or even just squirm? I think we know the answer.
This reminds me of the story way back in the day about the $75.00 hammer Pentagon bought that was something like $5.00 at the hardware store. I think that was a 60 Minutes piece as well. Nothing has really changed …
Hope this gets shared far and wide. Stupid people will take cutting military spending the wrong way but this is ridiculous. The supposed greatest country in the world has a massive homeless problem but lets continue to spend billions on "defense". Makes total sense.
Thank you, Judd. You crammed a lot of vital info into a small space. U.S. militarism isn't only wasteful -- it's extremely dangerous. According to Brown University's Cost of War project (https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/), we've killed over 900,000 people since 9/11 -- engendering a tremendous amount of animosity. The U.S. is pushing for increased tensions with China, and there is already a "Warm" War with Russia. This latter flash point could lead to an accidental nuclear exchange that could devastate the human population.
Please stay on these issues. The mainstream media almost never give any context or even basic facts about the dangers we face.
It’s disgusting that we have a blank check for defense contractors, yet we want to cut a mere millions (compared to the Defense Dept budget) off the budget for SNAP. And both Dems and Repubs are guilty of this exorbitant spending spree continuing. To add to this - the Defense Dept can’t pass an audit - so we can’t verify where the money is actually going. We need to demand a change in what our priorities are and where our taxpayer money is being spent. No wonder we can’t balance a budget with our oversized Defense contractor expenditures.
This makes me literally sick to my stomach and what can we do? Nothing it seems, so disappointed in this aspect of our government.
Does the Pentagon’s procurement process resemble other government agencies’? I’m guessing it used to, before the employee reduction. Based on the thimble-sized experience I have with federal contracts from a few years ago, I’m guessing the clearance level required to review defense proposals for products and services is at or just below the highest. To effect the best contract, someone eligible for that level of clearance would also need to be an experienced, proven negotiator.
As it stands, someone with this combination would command a large salary, far more than the government could or would pay yesterday or today. The urging of contractors to merge may have had something to do with a lack of their willingness to subcontract to each other. This whole thing is a quagmire, but in the end it’s probably why any Pentagon procurement ever happens. I’m not defending it, but realistically it’s where we are. Would a billion less damage national security? No. We all knew from the beginning that Biden and McCarthy were posturing with their threats and promises about debt ceiling negotiation. In the end, things could have been much worse, and they both knew from the start they would be able to make that argument. Does the whole thing stink? You bet. Can we do anything about it? No.
Thank you so much for this article. This magnifies a major problem in our country that causes us more misery than we can afford. The violence inherent in 'defense' is fundamental in a lot of the problems we seem to suffer. It may be related to the gun violence we experience. Violence simply begets itself. Reducing the military budget will bring us peace at home and abroad. A problem that bears investigation is the tendency of defense contractors to place weapons manufacturing plants in places to curry favor with congress people. This makes it difficult to reign in the contractor for fear folks in a congress persons district will lose their job as a result. Of course it would be better if folks working on weapons could transition to health care or food production so they could serve life rather than death. But looking at these defense plants as a bribe for votes would be of interest.