Bush’s 2009 Budget Is ‘As Good As It Gets For Defense Contractors’

Last week, President Bush submitted his $515.4 billion defense spending budget for FY ’09. Contained within that budget is a windfall for defense contractors — “$104.2 billion for weapons procurement and nearly $80 billion for research and development.” This budget is 7.5 percent higher than the current year’s.

Even Defense experts are surprised at how generous the Bush administration is willing to be with the taxpayers’ money, in light of a faltering economy and deep cuts to domestic programs:

“The expectation has been that it can’t continue to increase as it has,” Phil Finnegan, a defense analyst at the Teal Group in Fairfax, said of defense spending. “But it has surprised everyone to see how long this increase has continued. This budget was a great budget for all defense contractors.” […]

The fiscal year 2009 budget may be about as good as it gets for defense contractors,” said Steve Kosiak, vice president of budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “We have had eight years of quite dramatic growth in [the Defense Department’s] weapons acquisition accounts. Whoever the next president is, it is unlikely that we are going to continue a major buildup.

The administration may get its way on many of these spending requests. The military has dispatched “legions of lobbyists and defense contractors” to Capitol Hill to push for approval. Several lawmakers are actually asking for spending above what the administration requested. Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and James Inhofe (R-OK), for example, are lobbying for F-22 fighter planes, even though Defense Secretary Robert Gates has deemed more of these useless planes unnecessary.

A 2007 report by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform found that between 2000 and 2005, procurement was the “fastest growing component of federal discretionary spending.” Non-competitive and sole-source contractors rose “by 115% from $67.5 billion in 2000 to $145 billion in 2005.”

The biggest beneficiary of the Bush administration’s generosity toward contractors? Halliburton.

UPDATE: Noah Shachtman has more on the Air Force’s astronomical requests, which include $13 million for “dorm furnishings.”