Corporations, Not Troops, Benefit From Bloated Defense Budget

The United States spends more money on defense than the next eight top-spending†countries combined. Americans Ė politicians and citizens alike – tend to excuse this spending because no price is too high when weíre talking about money going to support our troops.

But what if I told you that a large portion of that money doesnít go to the troops? It turns out that about half of the military budget goes straight in to the pockets of five private corporations.

William Hartung wrote a damning ťxposť for the Nation outlining the various ways that our defense spending really seems to benefit the military industrial complex. Out of our $600+ billion in defense allocations, $304 billion is spent on contracts to corporations.

Who gets the money?

Because this work is being outsourced to companies outside of the government, thereís not a lot of oversight into how this money is being spent. In the past decade, America has seen firsthand how irresponsible can be with managing other peopleís money.

For example, the CEOs of the companies with the top five most lucrative defense contracts earned an average of $20 million each year. Considering these companies primarily make their money from the government (how many other clients buy massive weapons only suitable for warfare?),†those lofty salaries are essentially being provided by taxpayers.

We wouldnít compensate government employees that much money, but because they work for the government without actually working for the government, they can charge all sorts of overhead to the Pentagon for their services and give ludicrous financial kickbacks to executives.

Whereís the patriotism?

This arrangement begs the question Ė why do we outsource this work to private entities when we could put the government in charge of it. That seems like the best way to ensure that the money doesnít get spent in all the wrong places.

With all of our talk about how we support the troops, why are these corporations not making their own sacrifices in the name of patriotism? They work almost exclusively for government contracts and then gift themselves million dollar bonuses Ė thatís not love of country or making sure the military gets all the dollars we think weíre allocating to it.

Can we change it, then?

The corporations collecting billions from these contracts certainly donít want anything to change. In fact, they a hunk of their profits on lobbying efforts to make sure the system stays as is. In less than a decade, the military defense industry has spent in excess of $1 billion (employing over 700 lobbyists) to make sure their contracts continue to soar.

They also use some of the money to donate to politicians. Members of Congress that serve on either the defense appropriations committee or armed services committee are especially prime targets for campaign contributions since they have the most say in ensuring defense contracts stay generous. Itís quid pro quo in action.

Employees of the Pentagon seem content to help corporations with defense contracts make that money, too. Similar to how members of Congress leave public office for lucrative jobs in the private sector, Pentagon employees will often curry favors with corporations with the expectation of getting a cushy salary from these companies in the years ahead.

Though typically these government employees get away with this unethical behavior, Hartung identified one example of a woman who went to jail for precisely this kind of underhandedness.

Looking ahead

Since the Nationís article was published, the shenanigans have only gotten worse. President Donald Trump just announced he would name a top executive from Lockheed Martin (a company that made $36 billion in military contracts last years) to the Pentagonís #3 position. Do you have any doubt that heíll use that role to advocate for more contracts with his previous company?

Unlike a lot of governmental problems, we canít blame this one solely on the GOP. The Democratic Party has been complicit, pretty uniformly voting to increase defense spending at every turn. Last month, Congress passed a defense budget even higher than the budget Trump had suggested.

In fact, the only time recently that Congress has talked about cutting slashing the defense budget is when itís money that would come at the expense of soldiers, not corporations.

Letís stop kidding ourselves that the insane amount of money we give to the Pentagon is money well spent. Many American laws exist explicitly to help corporate profits, and the defense budget is yet another method for accomplishing that.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

73 comments

Amanda M
Amanda M1 months ago

noted

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Amanda M
Amanda M1 months ago

NOTED

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Lisa M
Lisa M1 months ago

Noted.

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Lisa M
Lisa M1 months ago

Noted.

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Callie R
Callie R1 months ago

I hope no one in this country is dumb enough to have thought all those mega bucks were for the good of the troops.

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Brandy S
Brandy S1 months ago

Thank you.

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Laura R
Laura R1 months ago

Thanks.

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Larry McDaniel
Larry McDaniel1 months ago

Thank you

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Angela G
Angela G1 months ago

sigh

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Janis K
Janis K1 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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