Profits of Doom: Military contractors rob us daily, with help from Republicans
U.S. & World

Profits of Doom: Military contractors rob us daily, with help from Republicans

nuclear war
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It’s Budget Season in DC, and the swamp is in full bloom.

Republicans refuse to offer a budget. Why is that? After all, they are demanding that Biden and his Democrats promise to make major cuts because Republicans are so-o-o-o-o concerned about the debt ceiling, even though they are largely responsible for much of the massive national debt.

What the Republicans don’t want to reveal is that their budget won’t cut the huge items that do nothing for our communities. What the Rs want to cut are relatively small budgets that actually help working Americans.

But again and again they vow to “stay strong” on “national defense,” and will vote to increase the DoD budget, already the largest in the world by far, eclipsing the combined total of all our adversaries plus a few of our allies.

Naturally, Kevin McCarthy is pronouncing on the Biden budget as DOA and on what great things his Republican budget will do, like cut Pentagon spending by…some amount that changes every time he makes another hollow promise. Other Rs have given him dire warnings against such pork trimming. McCarthy himself says that the areas to cut in the DoD budget are anything that has any whiff of “wokeism,” including all efforts to make the military, for once, a bit less of an environmental polluter and consumer.

Meanwhile, the rightwing media, including nouveau conservative Politico, frames this debate as a country that should cut Social Security and Medicare but leave the Pentagon budget alone. Indeed, they refer to those trust budgets as “drivers” of the debt and the smaller food and housing assistance budgets as “entrenched,” as though sensible working Americans would like to see them cut but the darn libs won’t yield.

Meanwhile, the war profiteers are gobbling up big bites from your paychecks.

Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, General Dynamics, and other Pentagon contractors make outrageous levels of profits, due to a number of corrupt practices that riddle the military procurement practices, Congress, and the corporate benefactors. One hundred percent of their profits are paid for with the taxes removed from your pay, usually before you ever see it. Look at your pay information and you’ll see why the Pentagon budget is a key factor in naming it a pay “stub.”

I mean, we are still in a great deal of federal debt just for the illegal Iraq invasion and occupation, accounting for some nine percent of the debt. That was a Republican war, voted for and then voted for again and again with “budget supplementals,” but those prudent Rs somehow overlook that.

Looking at my most recent stub, I see the amount withheld for federal taxes is approximately double than the total withheld for Social Security plus Medicare. Since about half of the fed taxes withheld will go to the Pentagon, that means that the Pentagon gets as much each paycheck of mine as Social Security and Medicare combined.

Those trust funds are crucial to more than 70 million Americans who receive these benefits, not to mention millions more who in turn rely on them.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is critical to some 41 million poor Americans. Of course that is on the Republican cut list. Saving a little money on the backs of poor Americans while lavishly bestowing military corporations is criminally callous, which is looking like a Republican value.

The combination DoD contracts with just two DoD contractors–Lockheed Martin and Raytheon–total several $billion more than the SNAP budget. The thousands of other military contractors, in turn, receive far more funding than any of the special programs that help low-income Americans simply survive.

Even as they want to cut the small budgets that really help struggling Americans, the Pentagon maintains some 5,000 installations, big and small, around the world.

It seems that, according to the Republicans, it is your human right to pay for 14 Ohio-class nuclear submarines that carry 20 ballistic missiles with multiple thermonuclear warheads each and could literally kill most life on Earth. That fleet was ungodly expensive and now the Pentagon plans to decommission them all so they can purchase a new fleet, the Columbia-class. While the estimates are about $128 billion for that outlay, the history of submarine estimates vs actual costs would probably suggest multiplying that estimate by three or four.

But your health care, your higher education, and, for that matter, your access to housing or food is a privilege.

I mean, one looks at the daily Pentagon contracts and its a giant fiscal farrowing house, with megatons of pork awarded every day. Many of the contracts exceed $50 million, some exceed a $billion, and quite a few are no-bid, cost-plus contracts that would never be acceptable in a legitimate contracting process.

By the time you add in the nuclear weapons budget (which is bizarrely in the Dept of Energy budget), Veterans benefits (in the Veterans Affairs budget), and something like 80 percent of the NASA budget–all of which are real military costs that need to be thought of like that–we are looking at the US military spending approximately $5 billion each workday.

We either hold our lawmakers accountable or they will continue to fail us and reward war profiteers. It really is that simple.

Dr. Tom H. Hastings is Coördinator of Conflict Resolution BA/BS degree programs and certificates at Portland State University, PeaceVoice Senior Editor, and on occasion an expert witness for the defense of civil resisters in court. 

Tom H. Hastings

Tom H. Hastings

Dr. Tom H. Hastings is Coördinator of Conflict Resolution BA/BS degree programs and certificates at Portland State University, PeaceVoice Senior Editor, and on occasion an expert witness for the defense of civil resisters in court.