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Nuclear weapons industries control USA policy on military spending

The Nuclear Weapons Industry’s Money Bombs, How millions in campaign cash and revolving-door lobbying have kept America’s atomic arsenal off the chopping block.  Mother Jones, By R. Jeffrey Smith, Center for Public
Integrity   Jun. 6, 2012
 Employees of private companies that produce the main pieces of the US nuclear arsenal have invested more than $18 million in the election campaigns of lawmakers that oversee related federal
spending, and the companies also employ more than 95 former members of Congress or Capitol Hill staff to lobby for government funding, according to a new report.

The Center for International Policy, a
nonprofit group that supports the “demilitarization” of US foreign
policy, released the report on Wednesday to highlight what it
described as the heavy influence of campaign donations and pork-barrel
politics on a part of the defense budget not usually associated with
large profits or contractor power: nuclear arms.

As Congress deliberated this spring on nuclear weapons-related
projects, including funding for the development of more modern
submarines and bombers, the top 14 contractors gave nearly $3 million
to the 2012 reelection campaigns of lawmakers whose support they
needed for these and other projects, the report disclosed.

Half of that sum went to members of the four key committees or
subcommittees that must approve all spending for nuclear arms—the
House and Senate Armed Services Committees and the Energy and Water or
Defense appropriations subcommittees, according to data the Center
compiled from the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics. The rest
went to lawmakers who are active on nuclear weapons issues because
they have related factories or laboratories in their states or
districts.

Members of the House Armed Services Committee this year have sought to
erect legislative roadblocks to further reductions in nuclear arms,
and also demanded more spending for related facilities than the Obama
administration sought, including $100 million in unrequested funds for
a new plant that will make plutonium cores for nuclear warheads, and
$374 million for a new ballistic missile-firing submarine. The House
has approved those requests, but the Senate has not held a similar
vote on the 2013 defense bill.
Although lawmakers say their votes are not influenced by the campaign
donations they receive, and donors routinely say their contributions
are meant to ensure access—not buy votes, the Center’s report said
that the $18 million given by the contractors to key lawmakers over
the course of their political careers makes it hard for the recipients
to ignore what the companies want.

“Any effort to downsize the nation’s nuclear force is likely to be met with fierce opposition from the individuals and institutions that benefit from the nuclear status quo, including corporations involved in designing and building nuclear delivery vehicles; companies that
operate nuclear warhead-related facilities; and members of Congress with nuclear weapons-related facilities or deployments,” said the
report by William Hartung, who directs the Center for International
Policy’s Arms and Security Project.
Other groups have documented that there is a substantial financial
stake in nuclear weapons policymaking: At present, the US government
spends roughly $31 billion a year on its arsenal, according to a tally
released on Tuesday by the Stimson Center, a nonprofit group in
Washington. It has also proposed to spend at least $120 billion on new
warhead-carrying submarines, bombers, and missiles over the next
several decades..
Ensuring steady access to such funding is vital for some of the
companies whose employees made large campaign donations cited in the
study—such as Lockheed or Northrup Grumman—because they draw at least
80 percent of their revenue from federal contracts. Of the 137
lobbyists hired by the top contractors, 57 are former members of
Congress, 39 are former congressional staff, 16 are former defense
officials and 8 are former Energy Department officials, the study
said.
……. Members of the House Armed Services Committee have demanded
more spending on nuclear facilities, including $100 million in
unrequested funds for a new plant that will make plutonium cores for
nuclear warheads.
………The government spends around $31 billion a year on its
nuclear arsenal, and has proposed spending at least $120 billion on
new submarines, bombers, and missiles……
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/06/nuclear-bombs-congress-elections-campaign-donations

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June 11, 2012 - Posted by | politics, Reference, USA

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