Thursday, May 05, 2016

Wait, Who Does the Defense Industry Support?

If you were to guess whom the defense industry supported more, a Republican or Democratic candidate, who would you pick? Most, I assume, would believe that Republicans are supported more than Democrats by the defense industry. Republicans traditionally have stood for a higher military budget, while Democrats often campaign on the promise to produce cuts. However, according to Politico, you would be wrong in assuming they support 2016 Republican candidates more. According to their report, the 50 largest contractors with the Department of Defense support Hillary Clinton, providing at least $459,994 over a fourteen-month period.[1]

Ok, well maybe Hillary has some more government ties due to her stint as Secretary of State or because of her husbands Bill’s connections. Again, Democratic Bernie Sanders falls in second with at least $310,055 from defense-related workers.[2] The closest Republic is Ted Cruz, with $307,955.[3] Why is this? Politico suggests that maybe the defense industry just believes a democrat will win.[4] In addition, President Obama has already called for an increase of $2.4 billion on defense spending for the fiscal year 2017. [5]Both Clinton and Sanders support the F-35 program and defense spending. They do, however, question the large price tag on nuclear weapons. Cruz goes even further than Obama, calling to increase by an additional $135 billion.[6]

This large amount of money involved in politics should be no surprise. The defense industry is an extremely lucrative and necessary monster that is not going away. Any additional benefit they can receive by donating $50,000 could result in a multi-billion dollar contact. However, as Politico points out, the presidential campaign donations are significantly trumped by donations to members of congress in key defense-related committees. Between 2015 to February 2016, about $7.5 million was donated to those on the Armed Services committees and the Appropriations subcommittees for Defense and for Energy and Water.[7] We should not expect to see this drop anytime soon as the US continues to battle terrorism, situations in the Middle East, and compete against the ever -advancing China.

[1] Cohen, Alexander; “The Defense Industry’s Surprising 2016 Favorites: Bernie & Hillary”; Politico; April 1, 2016;
[2] Id.
[3] Id.
[4] Id.
[5] Id.
[6] Id.
[7] Id.

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