Bernie Sanders Calls Out Defense Contractors and Lobbyists

Kevin Rutledge on February 19, 2015
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders calls out wasteful spending on military, fraud and government settlements from defense contractors, wants to make judicious cuts, and if president he would audit the Department of Defense - who can't keep track of where money is going.

Nearly 130 people attended the town hall meeting in Iowa City when volunteer Tessa Heeren asked: “You’ve criticized the wasteful spending in the military.  As president how would you combat the lobbying from the weapons industry, and get that budget that you dream of to be passed?”

The military industrial complex is so vastly large and powerful, they have tremendous influence from spending millions of dollars through campaign donations and lobbying.

Open Secrets - Defense Industry Money to Politicians

Lobbying expense from top 5 Pentagon Contractors in 2013: $53,000,000

Total government contracts they received: $142,000,000,000

Senator Sanders responded, “They make sure they have military contracts all over the country.  So then any member of Congress who stands up and says ‘Well, maybe we don’t have to spend $600 billion on the military.’  They get letters from people working in the military industry in their own state.”

Actual spending on the military is well over $600 billion.  From our blog post B is for Billion: What Military Cuts? on February 3rd, our current “National Security Budget” for 2015 is $1,009,000,000,000 – Over $1 TRILLION for one year alone.  This number includes the actual Pentagon budget, cost of nuclear weapons, Veteran Affairs, non-Department of Defense national security, and the share of interest on our national debt attributed to military spending.

As president, Sen. Sanders said he would audit the Department of Defense because of the massive cost overruns.  “The Department of Defense is so large, it is so complicated, that they can’t even audit themselves.  You ask them, ‘tell me exactly where is the money going’, they’re not quite clear about it.”

Sen. Sanders ends with, “We know that there is massive fraud going on in the defense industry.  Virtually every major defense contractor has either been convicted of fraud or reached a settlement with the government….We need a strong military, it is a dangerous world.  But I think we can make judicious cuts.

Why has virtually every defense contractor have been convicted of fraud or reached settlements?  What are proposed judicious cuts that could eliminate fraud and government settlements from happening and stop spending over $1 TRILLION on “National Security”?

University of Iowa Iowa City, IA
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Kevin Rutledge

Kevin Rutledge AFSC Governing Under the Influence Presidential Campaign Project

Kevin Rutledge is the Grassroots Education Coordinator with AFSC’s Presidential Campaign Project in Iowa.  Kevin has deep family roots in Quaker activism for peace and social justice.  A graduate from Iowa State University in Sociology and Criminal Justice, his previous work includes: United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) organizer, Public Citizen online organizer to overturn Citizens United, U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, and a youth residential treatment facility.  Kevin hopes to one day return to Brazil and live by the beach.

“What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” – Napoleon Hill .