Does Jeb Bush Heed Eisenhower's Warning?

Arnie Alpert on October 14, 2015
On Dwight Eisenhower's birthday, Rev. Dwight Haynes asked Jeb Bush if he is heeding the former president's warning about the "military industrial complex." Bush expressed concern about wasteful spending, but as the Concord Monitor reported, that didn't go far enough for Dwight Haynes.

Rev. Dwight Haynes was driving to a Town Hall Meeting with Jeb Bush when he heard a story on his car radio that mentioned it was the birthday of Dwight Eisenhower, the 5-star general who became the nation’s 34th president.  That was the perfect cue.

As Bush’s program at McAuliffe-Shephard Discovery Center in Concord was wrapping up, Dwight waved his hat to get the former Florida governor’s attention.  When he finally got called on, Dwight mentioned his namesake’s birthday and made reference to the former president’s prophetic warning about the “unwarranted influence of the military industrial complex.”

As the Concord Monitor reported, “Bush, standing under the nose of a Vought XF8U-3 Crusader jet, said it was a good point and that ‘every aspect of spending needs to be challenged in Washington, D.C.’”  As an example of over-spending on weapons, Bush mentioned the F-35, a fighter plane projected to cost taxpayers $1.5 trillion over its life cycle. 

Bush could have also mentioned the other problems which have plagued the F-35, such as last week’s report that the ejection seats don’t work for pilots who are too light, but he didn’t.  He also could have mentioned the huge political clout of the plane’s primary contractor, Lockheed-Martin, which spends about $14 million a year on lobbying.  Lockheed’s PAC also invests about $4 million in political candidates each election cycle (see OpenSecrets.org for details).  Bush didn’t mention that either.

Maybe that’s why Dwight Haynes was dissatisfied with the candidate’s response to his concern that the political power of military contractors drives excessive spending.

“I think he’s willing to let that budget be inflated,” he told the Monitor after the candidate left. “He kind of back tracked. He said we shouldn’t be wasting what money we spend. He wasn’t willing to say, ‘Yes, I will set limits.’ ”

Dwight Haynes, a retired Methodist minister, said, “Eisenhower warned against that.”

(You can see the interaction between Dwight Haynes and Jeb Bush on this CSPAN link, starting at 1:14:16.)

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Fort Eddy Rd
Concord, NH 03301
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Arnie Alpert

Arnie Alpert

Arnie Alpert is co-director of the American Friends Service Committee’s New Hampshire Program, which he has led since 1981.  In that time he has been involved in movements for economic justice and affordable housing, civil and worker rights, peace and disarmament, abolition of the death penalty, and an end to racism and homophobia.