The myth of “defense lobbyists” spurring weapon programs

The opponents of a strong defense (e.g. CATO Institute and POGO hacks) falsely claim that many weapon programs are unnneeded and have been created solely at the behest of the defense industry’s lobbyists and their political representatives in the DOD and the Congress. This is a blatant lie for two reasons: the vast majority of the DOD’s current weapon programs are absolutely needed in light of the US military’s needs and requirements, and the defense industry is too weak financially and politically to have significant influence over DOD and Congressional weapon program (or other) decisions.

The OpenSecrets website has a list of the country’s 100 biggest political donors, by total sum of donations made from 1989 to 2012. No defense company makes it even to the top 30 (or the top 32), let alone the top 10!

Lockheed Martin, the country’s largest defense contractor, is barely 33rd, at $22,398,020 – not exactly George Soros money. General Electric is 35th at $21,947,727. Other defense contractors are even further down the list: Boeing is 51st, with total political contributions at barely $17,884,942. Northrop Grumman is 58th, at $15,598,484. General Dynamics is 70th, at $13,894,518.

The 10 top contributors are: ActBlue (a pro-Democrat group) at $69,829,402; the American Fdn of State, County, and Municipal Employees at $61,440,473; AT&T at $49,435,290; the National Association of Realtors at $44,032,938; the NEA at $43,613,263; the SEIU at $41,809,666; Goldman Sachs at $39,830,663; the “American Association for Justice” at $36,480,728; the “Intl Brotherhood of Electrical Workers” at $35,994,170; and the American Federation of Teachers at $34,698,466.

Compared to these figures, the defense industry contributions’ are meagre. ActBlue, a pro-Democrat group, contributed almost as much to politicians as the top 4 defense contractors combined.

Furthermore, the following graph proves that the defense industry is one of the smallest donors to politicians and political groups, donating only small amounts of money, and far less than almost every other industry in the country. Unions are by far the biggest donor group.

But the biggest evidence of defense contractors’ tiny stick is their total inability to prevent weapon program closures and other defense cuts. They failed to prevent 50 crucial weapon programs from being killed in 2009 and 2010. They failed to prevent the ratification of New START. They failed to prevent the closure of further weapon programs by Sec. Gates in January 2011. They failed to prevent the inclusion of defense cuts in, or the passage of, the Budget Control Act. They failed to prevent sequestration from being triggered by the Super Committee. They have failed so far to induce the Congress to compromise and agree on a deal that would avert sequestration. As a result, sequestration is now on track to kick in less than 4 months from now, unless the Congress averts it.

No, the current weapon programs of the DOD are not payoffs to defense contractors. They are not toys for them or for generals. They are crucial, needed weapon systems which need to be developed and deployed.

So, yet another lie of the opponents of a strong defense has been thoroughly debunked.


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