Elizabeth Warren unveils plan to radically reform the Pentagon

Elizabeth Warren unveils plan to radically reform the Pentagon

Elizabeth Warren has likely heard the criticism. On Wednesday, the Massachusetts senator and 2020 Democratic hopeful issued a call for U.S. armed forces to go green—one that earned the ire of progressives like Naomi Klein for its failure to grapple with the size of America’s military industrial complex. On Thursday, she unveiled a proposal that appears to address these concerns, at least in part.

In an essay posted to Medium titled “It’s Time to Reduce Corporate Influence at the Pentagon,” Warren presents a four-point plan that seeks to prohibit “giant” contractors from hiring senior officials at the Department of Defense, thereby “[slamming] shut the revolving door” between the two; ban defense officials from owning or trading related stocks; limit, if not outright preclude, national security officials from accepting jobs with foreign governments; and expose the lobbying done on behalf of such companies as Lockheed Martin Corp., which received more than $35 billion in defense contracts in 2017.

“It’s past time to cut our bloated defense budget,” she writes. “Defense contractor influence is a big part of how we ended up with a Pentagon budget that will cost more this year than Ronald Reagan spent at the height of the Cold War. That’s more than the federal government spends on education, medical research, border security, housing, the FBI, disaster relief, the State Department, foreign aid — everything else in the discretionary budget put together. What’s worse, it’s how we end up spending money on the wrong things — too much investment in the technologies of the past, and not enough focus on the needs of the future.”

Warren’s latest policy initiative comes on the heels of President Donald Trump nominating Patrick Shanahan for secretary of defense. Shanahan has served as acting secretary of defense since James Mattis vacated the post in December 2018. Prior to that, he spent 31 years as an executive at Boeing.

“I opposed Shanahan’s prior nomination to work as Trump’s #2 at DOD because of his lack of foreign policy experience and my concerns about his ability to separate himself from Boeing’s financial interests after a lifetime spent working for the company,” Warren continues. “More recently, I asked the DOD watchdog to investigate after receiving reports that he had used his official position as Deputy Secretary to promote Boeing’s interests within the Pentagon. The IG cleared Secretary Shanahan of breaking existing ethics rules — but his obvious potential conflicts of interest remain. The truth is that our existing laws are far too weak to effectively limit the undue influence of giant military contractors at the Department of Defense. The response of Congress shouldn’t be to confirm Shanahan. It should be to change the rules.”

Read Warren’s essay in its entirety at Medium.

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