Putting Americans Ahead of Defense Contractor Profits

America is exceptional…when it comes to war profiteering. Ever since the Supreme Court said that defense contractors can buy off politicians left and right, business has been booming for the defense industry.

Last year, the defense industry spent over $125 million on lobbying efforts. And that industry has spent at least $120 million on lobbying every year since 2007. In response, our lawmakers have made sure that the defense industry is well-rewarded.

In 2011, the U.S. government spent 20% of the federal budget on defense. That’s more than it spent on Medicare, Medicaid, and other social safety net programs. And that 20% equals about $718 billion, more than the next 13 closest nations spent on defense combined.

America’s defense spending today is higher than at any time since the height of World War II. As you might expect, all of that spending has made U.S. defense contractors very, very rich.

A new report out from the London-based research firm IHS Incorporated finds that U.S. defense contractors are behind a staggering one-third of all military equipment and weapons exported world-wide. And, not surprisingly, U.S. defense contractors are profiting quite nicely from tensions in the Middle East.

The IHS report found that U.S. contractors accounted for a whopping $8.4 billion in military exports to the Middle East in 2014 alone. That’s compared to $6 billion in 2013. But as we all know, defense contractors are very greedy. They’re always looking for a new way to make more money, even if that means drumming up a war or two.

So now, they’re using their shills in Washington, our elected officials and politicians, to encourage other countries to spend more on defense just so defense contractors can pad their already ballooning wallets. That’s where U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power comes in.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program, Power sounded the alarm bells over Europe’s decreasing defense spending. Power said that cuts to defense budgets across Europe are “concerning” and warned that, “The number of missions that require advanced militaries to contribute around the world is growing not shrinking.”

European nations that are members of NATO have pledged to spend at least 2% of their total GDP on defense spending. But, many NATO nations are now trying to back away from that pledge and slash their defense spending, instead preferring to spend those billions on things like healthcare, education and other critical investments that are needed to make a nation successful. And the NATO nations aren’t alone.

Much of the rest of the world is also saying that we don’t need tanks or destroyer ships or the latest advanced military weaponry. Instead, they just want to have good intelligence and be good citizens of the world.

Imagine if the U.S. gave that a try, and put the billions and billions of dollars that are spent on defense to other uses. For example, as of 2011, U.S. military costs in Afghanistan alone were enough to fund the Head Start program for all eligible children in America for 15 years.

Similarly, according to the National Priorities Project, spending in Iraq as of 2011 would be enough to hire over 700,000 elementary school teachers for a year, provide 10.7 million households with renewable electricity for a year, or give out 6 million scholarships to college students for a year.

But this is America. None of that matters as long as the defense industry is happy and raking in billions of dollars each year.

For example, yesterday Senator Tom Cotton tried to sabatoge President Obama's negotiations for peace with Iran. And, today, he spoke at the National Defense Industrial Association to an "off the record, strictly non-attribution" group of lobbyists and representatives of companies like Boeing and Booz Allen.

It’s time for this insanity to end, and for us to start following in the footsteps of the dozens of countries around the world that are putting their people ahead of defense contractor profits. Let’s make America exceptional off of the battlefield.


Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 15 weeks ago

Make way for the death merchants! And have fun paying your taxes, knowing your hard-earned money is making the world a better place for everybody (not).

Willie W's picture
Willie W 9 years 15 weeks ago

So what else is new? All that money and I don't even get to see the Blue Angels anymore. Greedy little bastards won't share.

flyguy8650's picture
flyguy8650 9 years 15 weeks ago

I think it is great idea to stop the defense contractors. Let's put them out of business. And break their unions too! Screw all those good paying jobs and hi-tech advancements. Let the Germans or Russians or Chinese or India do the work. We can find jobs at Whatta Burger for all the employees of the Contractors. Or better yet, lets send all the workers to those other countries and let them teach them how to do the work. Why not? Then take all the money we were spending on the contractors and cut checks for all the 11 million non-citizens, slackers in Colorado, Washington and alike, Hell, all 300 million people in the USA can split the 718 Billion equally. Then we get the Feds to manage all our new wealth. What a party this will be!!!! Please send me my invitation

stopgap's picture
stopgap 9 years 15 weeks ago

How did a bunch of greedy bastards obsessed with destroying all life on the planet ever become know as "The Defense Industry"? Let's call them what they really are: "MURDER INCORPORATED"!!!!!!

mathboy's picture
mathboy 9 years 15 weeks ago

Stopgap, I had to look up Dennis Miller's rant from about 1996 where he renamed the armed forces.

Army: Murder Incorporated (also the name applied to some 1930s gangsters).
Navy: Aqua-Kill 3000.
Air Force: The Dead-Foreigner Squad.
Marines: The Fighting OJ's.

stopgap's picture
stopgap 9 years 15 weeks ago

Am I stupid or what! Of course they are know as TheDefense Industry. In the brave knew Orwellian world of rightwing new-speak, everything means the exact opposite of its real definition. Like, "Clean Water" "Clear Air" "Operation Iraqi Freedom" "No Child Left Behind" blah, blah, blah, yahda, yahda, yahda…..

I didn't claim that Murder Incorporated was original, just accurate.

mathboy's picture
mathboy 9 years 15 weeks ago

Hey, even Dennis Miller wasn't original when he said it almost 20 years ago. I think it's a great way to allude to the military-industrial complex.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 9 years 15 weeks ago

It's so like the twisted world of the Teapublicans, the party of...... anti-union austerity politics, eliminate tax on the very rich, hysterical about the national debt, cut, cut ,cut.....to also be the party of spend your ass off, and bankrupt the country to the tune of trillions, as long as the spending is on their war for profit donors, the defense contractors.

Instead of death for profit, how about progressive prosperity for all humanity? Or would that be too much like the teachings of that famous socialist named Jesus?

stopgap's picture
stopgap 9 years 15 weeks ago

Mathboy, If the so called Defense Industry aren't a bunch of gangsters that have politicians in the palm of their hands, then… Hence the name MURDER INCORPORATED.

You scared me with that Dennis Miller reference though. I thought that contact with Dennis Miller had turned you into a stark raving mad zombie ala "Invasion Of The Body Snatchers". He does have that effect on the masses who come in contact with his voice. Fortunately, through your superior intellect you were able to resist being dragged down by his droning pompous banality. My advise is; don't go there again. First, there's no point in it and second, it's a waste time and third, why would anyone want to make themselves dumber unless, of course, they were trying to seek a closer understanding of what it's like to be a conservative.

RFord's picture
RFord 9 years 15 weeks ago

Our system of government may be the best in the world be it is seriously flawed. Our system allows citizens to run for election using campaigns sponsored with large sums of money that comes from corporate profits. When in office the elected citizen votes in favor of the sponsoring corporation on every issue that affects that corporation instead of voting in favor of the majority of people that the elected citizen represents. The elected citizen must vote in favor of the sponsoring corporation in order to get the sponsorship of the re-election campaign. When those corporations are in the war tools business, It causes the elected citizen to favor war so that the war tool corporation can keep making those profits that will again sponsor the same elected citizen. The same can be said for the fossil fuel industry, the drug industry, the banking industry and many other industries. The bottom line is most of our elected officials do not represent us, the voters, they represent them, the campaign sponsors. It's a seriously flawed system that allows that to happen and it can only be fixed by us the citizen voters once we all understand what's going on.

RichardofJeffersonCity's picture
RichardofJeffer... 9 years 15 weeks ago

The American public doesn't only provide the money for our military budget that equates to defense contractors public subsidies. The American public also subsidizes defense contractors with foreign aid that is traditional used to buy military weapons. It is a sweet deal. The CIA, NSA and other "intelligence" services manufacture new "enemies" to feed the Constant War Economy and the American public forks over all its money and future debt to defense contractors to fight these new threats to our national interest.

It works out pretty good for defense contractors when our national interest happens to be their financial interest to maintain a Constant War Economy.

upperrnaz12348's picture
upperrnaz12348 9 years 15 weeks ago

What is even more surprizing is how those of us that grew up as Democrats in the '50s look back nostalgically at those times and longing for Ike. Yeah, I am beginning to like Ike, the same prez that we Democrats spoke of so derisively.

The '50s proved that you could have a prosperous peacetime economy. We didn't need wars to produce jobs. It was enough that we bought the things we needed to maintain our families, our life styles. Obviously, there was what to improve pertaining to social issues.

Indeed, there was and Ike made sure schools were desegregated in the South, what erstwhile "Southern Democrat" from Missouri might have done after the war, but "being a Democrat" ... Sadly, even the Democrat that followed Ike was making sweet deals with Dixiecrats, so that it took a maverick Democrat the put America's "house in order".

Eisenhower, as well, knew what to do wth McCarthy--exactly what he did with Patton and McArthur. The "small d" democrat in him, tired of making wars, raised in the values of of an America where people had to the right to express their opinions freely. Once the virulent anti- . . . fever, he changed the disc, and even invited Kruschev to see what America looked like, and we learned that Russians need not be enemies. That was Ike's doing.

There was peace, and when he closed out his term of office, he warned us about a Military Industrial Complex that was waiting to take over. By golly it did!

As an ex-pat American, trying to keep up with the madness that is happening in the States, I am forced to say, "Ike, where are you when we need you so badly!"

Activist Annie's picture
Activist Annie 9 years 15 weeks ago

This pure greed and lust for power must make our Founders, Framers, their wives, those who fought for this nation since the beginning, lovers of our nation, President Eisenhower... so uncomfortable that they cannot rest in peace.

May God save us from ourselves!

"Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations...entangling alliances with none" – Thomas Jefferson

ckrob's picture
ckrob 9 years 15 weeks ago

Call your Democratic senator about THE letter. Maybe they'll get enough backbone to say something bad about the Republicans involved. Otherwise they'll just keep their heads down as usual.

tom kauser 9 years 15 weeks ago

Feb.12 1962: Greeley daily tribune editorial page; without going so far as to predict success of the disarmament conference which will start in Geneva in mid March the panelist estimate that if U.S. proposals were approved. (18 nation disarmament talks proposal from Khrushchev 1962)total spending on security programs would decline from 60 billion dollars in 1965 to 28 billion in 1977. they caution that although such a cutback might not touch off a depression , it might prove a significant drag on the economy and pose serious for policymakers?

the Greeley Daily Tribune should have been called the times of los alamos

tom kauser 9 years 15 weeks ago

you were on a roll up until the Feds managing the new wealth part. Its not new and it does need to change form and control? the money is locked away in the Federal Reserve. your daily labor is loaned to you in the form of FRN and you did make it. we all easily forget this basic principle that the Fed loaned you your fruits and the rest of ours as well?

Each day the total amount of the principle needed to pay the world is locked away in an interest bearing unlimited term income producing security that you will start paying a little back each day going forward as a consideration to the Fed for the initial loan you made out with them from that first paycheck!

the congress should pass something to change control of the Feds balance sheet to treasury to be in a fund to pay out social security !

mathboy's picture
mathboy 9 years 14 weeks ago

stopgap, I actually have all 4 of Miller's books of rants. He was moderate to liberal back then (i.e. before he let himself be terrorized by 9/11). In fact, his first rant was a call to revive liberalism.

I also read Bill O'Reilly's first two political books. In the first, I didn't always agree with him, but I expected that. In the second, he seemed absolutely insane. The first book was apparently a lure. I eventually shredded both books to prevent anyone else from being taken in by his lie of being independent.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 9 years 14 weeks ago

It's like Eisenhower said and predicted. Defense contractor's lobby, like that of other big business, are a big reason our social programs are disappearing - because they want the subsidy instead. They are in competition with social programs for tax payer money. They are behind the PR campaigns against welfare and the characterization of welfare recipients as good for nothing pikers and cheats. It's they, of course, who are the pikers and cheats.
The defense industry doesn't provide many jobs, comparatively. Defense manufacture is "capital intensive" rather than "labor intensive", i.e., it's mostly automated so it doesn't hire many people.

tomcalwriter1's picture
tomcalwriter1 9 years 14 weeks ago

To Flyguy 8650 -- You are an asshole!

No, we could be using that money for constructive things like rebuilding our infrastructure, creating a modern rail system, fixing the health care system. There are other ways to spend that money and for productive purposes. All that defense spending is just pissing the money away for weapons whose only purpose is to kill people. It's sheep like you who are brainwashed by the powers that be, whose ignorance keeps us under their control.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 14 weeks ago

Reply to #10: RF suggests our system of government “may be the best in the world”. By what measure?

Reply to #12: upperrnaz, I too grew up in the fifties and sixties, and I feel your pain.

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