Bush calls defense contractors "aggregators," need military procurement reform

Kevin Rutledge on December 01, 2015
I questioned Gov. Jeb Bush about corporate lobbyists contributing to wasteful spending in the military, including the $1.5 trillion F-35 fighter jets and $1 trillion nuclear weapons plan. Bush called defense contractors aggregators and says “we need procurement reform, plain and simple.”

After talking with Gov. Jeb Bush about private weapons contractors driving policies such as the the $1.5 trillion F-35 fighter jets and the new $1 trillion nuclear weapons plan, I asked him what we would do as President to stop corporate lobbyists or private corporations from driving public policy. Although Bush believes more competition will lower these costs, he agrees there is lots of waste within military procurement and expressed the need for reform. "You can’t have just three defense contractors basically doing all the major weapons systems," he told me.

Here is the transcript from the video:

Kevin: "You made reference earlier to the F-35 jets. There’s a lot of waste and expense, it’s $1.5 trillion and still doesn’t fly yet."

Jeb Bush: "How much?"

Kevin: "$1.5 trillion. That’s how much the expected cost is and it’s already cost $400 billion."

Bush: "One version of it is flying."

Kevin: "Ok, but you have to be under 130 pounds and certain specifications. But anyways, so there is a lot of waste with military procurement."

Bush: "Absolutely."

Kevin: "There was a question earlier about nuclear weapons. So we have a $1 trillion plan to spend more on nuclear subs, missiles, weapons, all of that. A lot of these private weapons contractors are driving these policies. So what would you do as President, to make sure that corporate lobbyists or private corporations are not driving public policy?"

Bush: "Great question. We need procurement reform, plain and simple. We have defense contractors which effectively are aggregators. So we end up with a handful of people bidding on these really complex projects. If you broke it down in their disparate parts, we’d have much more competition to lower costs. John McCain and Mac Thornberry in the House have proposals to do just that. We shorten the life cycle for building out these programs and allow for more competition and you could take out, extract a lot of the costs.

You can’t have just three defense contractors basically doing all the major weapons systems. So, the F-35 will eventually be a war fighter that will keep us safe, that it will be far superior to what the Russians or the Chinese have, but it could have been built at a much lower cost."

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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 .