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Monday, August 15, 2011 3:06 PM

Defense Industry Bribes and Legislative Whores

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In case you ever wondered how it is that Republicans do not want deficits and Democrats do not want deficits, yet we have massive and growing deficits, the following two articles will explain the reasons nicely.

Special Interests Gave Millions to Budget Panel

The Boston Globe reports Special interests gave millions to budget panel

The 12 lawmakers appointed to a new congressional supercommittee charged with tackling the nation's fiscal problems have received millions in contributions from special interests with a direct stake in potential cuts to federal programs, an Associated Press analysis of federal campaign data has found.

The newly appointed members -- six Democrats and six Republicans -- have received more than $3 million total during the past five years in donations from political committees with ties to defense contractors, health care providers and labor unions. That money went to their re-election campaigns, according to AP's review.

The congressional committee, created as part of the debt limit and deficit reduction agreement enacted last week, is charged with cutting more than $1 trillion from the budget during the coming decade. If the committee doesn't decide on cuts by late November -- or if Congress votes down the committee's recommendations -- spending triggers would automatically cut billions of dollars from politically delicate areas like Medicare and the Pentagon.

The committee's co-chairs -- Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas -- each received support from lobbyists and political committees, including those with ties to defense contractors and health care lobbyists. Hensarling's re-election committee, for instance, received about $11,000 from Lockheed Martin and $8,500 from Northrop Grumman.

Companies like Lockheed rely heavily on government contracts: More than 80 percent of Lockheed's net sales during the first six months of 2011 came from the U.S. government, according to Securities and Exchange Commission records. And in SEC filings two weeks ago, Northrop expressed concern of a "material adverse effect" on its finances had the debt ceiling not been raised.
'Doomsday' Defense Cuts Loom Large for Select 12

Yahoo!Finance reports 'Doomsday' defense cuts loom large for select 12
For the dozen lawmakers tasked with producing a deficit-cutting plan, the threatened "doomsday" defense cuts hit close to home.

The six Republicans and six Democrats represent states where the biggest military contractors -- Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics Corp., Raytheon Co. and Boeing Co. -- build missiles, aircraft, jet fighters and tanks while employing tens of thousands of workers. The potential for $500 billion more in defense cuts could force the Pentagon to cancel or scale back multibillion-dollar weapons programs. That could translate into significant layoffs in a fragile economy, generate millions less in tax revenues for local governments and upend lucrative company contracts with foreign nations.

The cuts could hammer Everett, Wash., where some of the 30,000 Boeing employees are working on giant airborne refueling tankers for the Air Force, or Amarillo, Texas, where 1,100 Bell Helicopter Textron workers assemble the fuselage, wings, engines and transmissions for the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.

Billions in defense cuts would be a blow to the hundreds working on upgrades to the Abrams tank for General Dynamics in Lima, Ohio, or the employees of BAE Systems in Pennsylvania.

For committee members such as Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., the threat of Pentagon cuts is an incentive to come up with $1.5 trillion in savings over a decade. Failure would have brutal implications for hundreds of thousands workers back home and raise the potential of political peril for the committee's 12.

"I think we all have very good reasons to try to prevent" the automatic cuts, Toomey told reporters last week when pressed about the impact on Pennsylvania's defense industry. "That is not the optimal outcome here, the much better outcome would be a successful product from this committee."

The panel has until Thanksgiving to come up with recommendations. If they deadlock or if Congress rejects their proposal, $1.2 trillion in automatic, across-the-board cuts kick in. Up to $500 billion would hit the Pentagon.

Those cuts, starting in 2013, would be in addition to the $350 billion, 10-year reduction already dictated by the debt-limit bill approved by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama this month.

Not surprisingly, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has described the automatic cuts as the "doomsday mechanism." He's warned that the prospect of nearly $1 trillion in reductions over a decade would seriously undermine the military's ability to protect the United States.

For the Pentagon, "we're talking about cuts of such magnitude that everything is reduced to some degree," said Loren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute, a think tank. "At that rate, you're eliminating the next generation of weapons."
Next Generation of Weapons Not Needed

A defense analyst at the Lexington Institute, a think tank bemoans "At that rate, you're eliminating the next generation of weapons."

My reply is "I sure hope so".

For the most part, we do not need a next generation of weapons. The US spends $trillions on "next generation" silliness and most of it does not work or is unneeded. How much did we waste of SDI (Star Defense Initiative) only to be thwarted by a group of knife-wielding terrorists?

How many more submarines does the US need? Tanks? Missiles? Anything?

Bribes and Whores

Defense contractors bribe member of the Senate and House to pass their legislation. Any representative not supportive of defensive industry bribes is labeled "weak on defense". Those supportive of aggressive US militarism receive hundreds of millions of campaign contributions. That is the way the game is played.

Moreover, Republican hypocrites who warn about spending do not have the courage to pass tax hikes to support this idiocy. The legislative whores from both parties play the game because it means jobs for their district.

No one gives a flying **** about whether any of this spending makes any sense for the nation. Instead they bemoan "brutal implications for hundreds of thousands workers back home", workers who should never have been hired in the first place, to build weapons that are not needed, to fight an enemy that is imaginary.

The War in Vietnam and the most recent war in Iraq is proof enough of the madness. Neither was justified. Idiots like Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara formulated the "Domino Theory" to justify the war. Neither Vietnam nor Iraq was a threat to the US in any way shape or form.

We have had absurdly stupid wars and continuation of stupid war policy under presidents Johnson, Nixon, Bush, and Obama. Clearly this is not a Republican vs. Democrat issue. This is a "Defense Industry Bribes and Legislative Whores" issues.

Campaign Finance Reform Badly Needed

Worse yet, the policy does not pertain just to defense. In tit-for-tat trading, Republicans and Democrats trade favors for pet projects, bloating up the budget for all kinds of reasons.

The situation is so out of line that I have sarcastically proposed on several occasions "Instead of electing Congressional representatives, we should eliminate Congress and let lobbyists write our bills. They do no anyway, so lets cut out the middleman".

Lobbyists are the only group who knew what was in the health-care bill rammed through by Democrats. Recall House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's statement: "We have to pass the health care bill so that you can find out what is in it".

It is pointless to expect change as long as lobbyists write legislation that our legislators never bother to read.

Clearly, something needs to be done about campaign finance reform. Speaking of which, have you ever noticed how challengers bemoan lack of campaign finance reform as a campaign issue, yet as soon as they are elected, nothing happens?

The reason is simple: Payouts and campaign contributions eventually makes whores out of the most of them. Is it any wonder public approval of Congress is at an all-time low?

Many representatives will point out they genuinely believe in the policies they vote for.

For some it is likely true. It is how they got elected in the first place (with help of donations of course). Others fail to understand the role bribery and payoffs have on their beliefs over time.


My friend BC writes ....
Consider this. As a share of the private GDP (total GDP less government spending, including personal transfers, such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, food stamps, etc.), government spending, oil consumption, and household interest payments account for an equivalent of 75-80% of private GDP!!!

Of the equivalent 56% of private GDP attributable to government spending, 10% of private GDP is for never-ending imperial wars!!!

In simple terms, it costs us 75-80% of the output of the non-government sector to pay for imperial government and war so we can import and consume oil for car and truck transport, which in turn allows us to borrow more money than we can ever afford to pay back to buy import oil and goods.

And we have been conditioned to believe for 30-40 years that this is a reasonable arrangement and sustainable indefinitely.

We are insane.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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