With the approach to the “fiscal cliff,” there is a lot of talk about the desire to avoid cutting the Defense budget. On its face, this appears to be concern about the fighting men and women in Afghanistan and other dangerous places, but it’s really concern about defense contractors. I don’t think the Republicans really care about the people serving in the military. Very few Republicans (or Democrats) in the House or Senate served in the military. But they do care about their contributions from defense contractors, and about jobs in plants in their home districts. Because of their concern about their home districts, the government had to change the whole procedure it uses to close military bases, because if handled the normal way, no base would ever be closed. It’s almost the same thing with defense contractors; every congressman wants to funnel money home to his defense contractor. Hence, the frequent congressional mandates to build weapons systems that the Pentagon doesn’t want.
So, I am not too concerned about all the furor about saving the Defense Department budget; it’s really about saving elections for incumbent congressmen and senators. The bottom line on jobs is serious, but why should we be more concerned about keeping jobs at defense plants than anywhere else? We need more jobs in computer companies, too, in airlines, everywhere. Why should defense contractors get special consideration? Because they give lots of money to the reelection campaigns of people in Congress. It’s all about the money, not about patriotism.