Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

The industrial-Congressional complex

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In this case, the “military” part of the military-industrial-Congressional complex is not involved: they don’t want the tanks, but the industry wants to build and sell them, and the industry controls Congress, which makes the decisions. But Congress, of course, is determined to slash spending, so industry doesn’t have a chance…  well, no: that’s not the way it works. Aaron Mehta and Lydia Mulvaney report for McClatchy:

The M1Abrams tank has survived the Cold War, two conflicts in Iraq and a decade of war in Afghanistan. No wonder: It weighs as much as nine elephants and it’s fitted with a cannon that’s capable of turning a building to rubble from two and a half miles away. But now the machine is a target in an unusual battle between the Defense Department and lawmakers who are the beneficiaries of large campaign donations by its manufacturer.

The Pentagon, facing smaller budgets and looking toward a new global strategy, wants to save as much as $3 billion by freezing refurbishing work on the M1 from 2014 to 2017, so it can redesign the vehicle from top to bottom. Its proposal would idle a large factory in Lima, Ohio, as well as halt work at dozens of subcontractors in Pennsylvania, Michigan and other states.

Abrams manufacturer General Dynamics, a nationwide employer that’s pumped millions of dollars into congressional elections over the past decade, opposes the Pentagon’s plans. The tank’s supporters on Capitol Hill say they’re desperate to save jobs in their districts and concerned about undermining America’s military capabilities.

So far, the contractor is winning the battle, after a well-organized campaign of lobbying and political donations involving the lawmakers on four key committees that will decide the tank’s fate, according to an analysis of spending and lobbying records by the Center for Public Integrity.

Sharp spikes in the company’s donations – including a two-week period last year when its employees and political action committee sent the lawmakers checks for their campaigns that totaled nearly $50,000 – roughly coincided with five legislative milestones for the Abrams, including committee hearings and votes and the defense bill’s final passage last year.

After putting the tank money back in the budget then, the House of Representatives and Senate Armed Services committees have authorized it again this year – allotting $181 million in the House and $91 million in the Senate. If the company and its supporters prevail, the Army will refurbish what Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno described in a February hearing as “280 tanks that we simply do not need.” . . .

Continue reading. I understand the importance of keeping people working, but the same government money could be spent instead on infrastructure projects, employing people to improve the state of the country instead of paying them to build tanks we simply do not need and the military does not want. If Congress wants to spend that money, infrastructure repair and maintenance is a better target—but of course infrastructure repair and maintenance is not giving members of Congress vast sums of money. The reason for the decision is obvious.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 July 2012 at 8:32 am

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