As Robert Greenwald and I pointed out in our latest post, the defense industry and their protectors are turning out en masse this week to oppose defense cuts planned to take effect Jan. 2, 2013. One of those protectors -- actually, THE protector on Capitol Hill -- is House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-Calif.). McKeon called on industry leaders to testify today in front of the committee to warn of the job losses and other stresses the industry faces if the cuts happen.
One of those defense industry officials was Lockheed Martin CEO Robert Stevens. He has described such cuts in the most grave terms, saying the industry can ill afford a slowdown in resources lest his company and others have to begin layoffs. That's the main line from the industry and the likes of McKeon, who is the top benefactor of defense industry campaign contributions in Washington, including President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. So if it's about money to keep people employed, then why is Lockheed spending increasing amounts on lobbying and CEO pay? Is there really no room for cuts when Lockheed can claim 2011 as another banner year for revenue and profit. From our latest piece:
Stevens has called the planned cuts "blunt force trauma" to the defense industry's economic well-being. Lockheed has also threatened to send layoff notices to employees ahead of Election Day, a craven attempt to scare workers and members of Congress with industry jobs in their districts. This is not to mention the$25.4 million Stevens made in 2011, the second consecutive year of record revenue and profit for the defense industry. Maybe Stevens could find money for his employees by cutting lobby expenditures? Lockheed spent $15 million on lobbying in 2011, up 19 percent from 2010. Lobbying by all defense contractors went up 11.5 percent in the first quarter of 2012, to $15.9 million. The idea that the likes of Lockheed Martin taking a cataclysmic tumble following the needed cuts to defense is about as unbelievable as how much taxpayer money that went to defense contractors in 2011, $373 billion, the second-highest yearly total ever. Here, Stevens and his ilk are at it again, pushing for more profits at the risk of further death and destruction, as War Costs has examined in the past.
Back to McKeon. In blaming President Obama for potential effects of such cuts, which came about when Congress could not agree on a deficit-reduction plan last year, McKeon told The Hill in an interview yesterday:
“The president is sitting down there and has no understanding, or just doesn’t care — I mean, where’s the compassion? People are being laid off,” McKeon said.
Where is the compassion? For an industry that received $373 billion from the government last year? Yes, jobs may be lost, but if government spending to spur jobs is what McKeon is worried about, there are many other sectors, like health care and education to name a couple, that enact more growth. Crying "jobs!" is the line defenders of Pentagon spending are using now that the industry's profit-reliable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are coming to an end in terms of America's heavy footprint in those countries. This is their best strategy to keep their endless flow of money going, especially during a tough economic era in America.
But citizens of all political stripes want to reduce defense spending. It's clear during a week like this who McKeon serves. It's clear, even by just barely glancing at the amount of money he gets from the industry, who he needs to protect. The top five contributors to McKeon's reelection campaign are defense contractors. Need we say more?