Defense Firms Boost Political Spending

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Defense contractors are investing heavily in politicians as a means of stemming looming cuts to the military. Bloomberg is reporting that political contributions by the top ten contractors went up by 29 percent in advance of the 2014 midterm congressional elections over the same period in 2012. The next crop of politicians will preside over the implementation of more than $1 trillion in defense spending reductions over the next 10 years and the companies are hoping to "buy back congresspeople," in the words of contracting consultant Mark Amtower. "They'll spend whatever it takes to stifle this trend," he told Bloomberg. A preview of the kind of political wrangling that might be on the horizon is playing out in Washington as the fate of the Air Force's fleet of A-10 aircraft is debated. 

Last week the House Armed Services Committee voted to cut other sections of the defense budget to save the ground attack aircraft. But now the committee's Senate counterpart says it will reject that approach because it violates various procedures for moving money around. However, it seems likely the A-10 fleet will be saved after all because the Senate committee also supports preserving it. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate committee, said another way will have to be found to keep the Warthogs from being mothballed. The Air Force wants to get rid of the aircraft to allocate its diminishing budget to other programs.