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Corrupt Contractors Make Their Move on the Deficit Committee

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The new deficit commission is holding its first substantive meeting on Tuesday, and the military contractors are out in force to protect their profits. They'll be working to cash in on hundreds millions of dollars in campaign donations and lobbying spending, and they'll deploy their favorite (and bogus) "jobs" spin. But members of the committee should not be fooled. The war industry is interested in one thing: continuing profits at our expense.

Join the War Costscampaign to help us fight back.

On Tuesday, a campaign called " Second To None," backed by the largest names in the military contracting industry, is staging a "march to the Hill." These contractors will be armed with fresh talking points and backed by 843 lobbyists (many of whom are former staffers of deficit committee members), along with deep campaign donation histories with the members. Every bit of this influence will be used to prevail upon the committee not to call for cuts to military spending in its final report to Congress.

The persuasion effort aimed at committee members will be largely an inside game, so our War Costs campaign went on offense yesterday with a full-page ad in a Capitol Hill insider publication to call for cuts to the war budget. (Please join our efforts by joining War Costs on Facebook.) But, since the contractors' game beyond the back-rooms will be waged using predictable talking points, committee members should know that the central thrust of the contractors' case for continued huge war budgets is false.

War spending costs us jobs compared to other ways of spending the money. For every billion dollars we spend on war instead of education, renewable energy technology, or even simple tax cuts for consumption, we give lose between 3,200 and 11,700 jobs, at least. War spending is terrible at job creation, period.

Now, keep that several-thousand-jobs cost per billion dollars in mind when you look at the following list. It's the amount in revenues that each of the top five military contractors made in 2010 strictly through doing business with the U.S. government, according to their annual reports:

  • Lockheed Martin: $38.4 billion (84 percent of total 2010 revenues)
  • Northrop Grummon: $32.1 billion (92 percent of total 2010 revenues)
  • Boeing: $27.7 billion (43 percent of total 2010 revenues)
  • General Dynamics: $23.3 billion (72 percent of 2010 revenues)
  • Raytheon: $22.3 billion (88 percent of total 2010 revenues)

These companies have proven track records of doing or saying anything to protect profits. Every one of these corporations was cited for misconduct in 2010. The committee members should remember that when these guys come calling on Tuesday with talking points in hand, especially since one of the instances of corruption for which these jokers were cited last year was a violation of the False Claims Act in an attempt to grab more taxpayer money. The truth is no obstacle for these companies when profit is on the line.

Nor are these companies averse to spending money to make even more money. Between 2007 and today, they donated $1.4 million to the committee members' campaigns and PACs (according to information compiled from OpenSecrets.org), and they've spent $210 million in the last 18 months on lobbying. You can bet they'll spend more--much more--to keep the billions flowing from our hands and into their pockets. What happens in the deficit committee over the next several weeks will be a test of whether our representatives can make decisions in the name of the common good, or whether our government really is for sale.

We don't have the luxury of sitting back and watching this process play out. We're going right at Second To None and the corporations behind them, starting today, but we need your help to get through to the committee. Now is the time for every person who wants to put America back to work to call the committee co-chairs and tell them we need real cuts to the war budget.

  • Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.): (202) 224-2621
  • U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas): (202) 225-3484

Join War Costs on Facebook, and follow Robert Greenwald and Derrick Crowe on Twitter.