Republican U.S. Sens. John McCain, Kelly Ayotte and Lindsey Graham are back on the road today in Nevada to do the bidding of Pentagon contractors.
At 3 p.m. PDT, the senators will hold a press conference at the College of Southern Nevada's Cheyenne campus to scream "The sky is falling!" in reference to planned cuts to Pentagon spending via sequestration in January set in motion by the Budget Control Act of 2011. Well over half of Republicans in the U.S. Senate and House, including McCain, voted for the law and the cuts they now hang on President Obama.
The senators will claim the cuts could cause around one million lost jobs, which is not credible. (In fact, cuts to other key domestic programs will cause job losses in much greater numbers.) They will also claim any cuts to the Pentagon make the United States less safe. There is no proof of this, and the argument has been made that a leaner, more-focused, less-wasteful defense budget is good for national security.
As the Project on Government Oversight wrote during the first leg of the senators' tour, the trio is not mentioning some key points about Pentagon contractors:
What McCain, Graham and Ayotte aren’t mentioning are the record earnings by large Pentagon contractors, the exorbitant executive salaries paid at these firms, the billions of dollars lost to waste and mismanagement and the fact that several politically-diverse national security experts say even if the deepest Pentagon cuts occur (and that scenario is unlikely) it will have a negligible effect on industry profits.
The threats of mass layoffs are simply political scare tactics by an industry that can afford to spend tens of millions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions while crying that the "sky is falling."
What’s more, big Pentagon contractors have hundreds of billions of dollars in backlogged orders that will maintain their revenue streams and keep their employees busy delivering goods and services for years to come.
If Pentagon contractors were actually feeling economic pressure, they could certainly trim excesses at the top before letting go thousands of rank-and-file employees. Pentagon contractors’ top executives enjoy compensation packages on par with Wall Street CEOs. The CEOs of Lockheed Martin, Boeing, United Technologies, and Northrup Grumman all made between $22 and $27.6 million in total annual compensation for 2011, and David Cote of Honeywell brought home a whopping $37.8 million.
They also won't say that cuts to the Pentagon have broad public support.
Read more counterpoints to the spin of industry and its defenders like McCain, Graham and Ayotte in a handy resource page compiled by POGO and allies.