Military contractors are eager to play up, and at times dramatically inflate, the economic costs of Pentagon budget cuts. Interestingly, while Lockheed Martin has threatened to cut 123,000 jobs if sequestration occurs, Lockheed, and its fellow contractors, are sparing no expense to lobby politicians in Washington, D.C.
DefenseNews reports that the top five U.S. military contractors boosted their lobbying expenses by 11.5 percent — a combined total of $15.9 million — in the first quarter of 2012 when compared to the same quarter in 2011. The increase in lobbying spending was led by Northrop Gurmman, increasing its spending by 51 percent, and Lockheed Martin, which increased its lobbying investment by 25 percent.
For companies that have warned about the economic costs of sequestration, the investment in high-priced Washington lobbyists is an interesting cost-benefit decision. But contractors, such as Lockheed Martin whose first-quarter lobbying spending had declined in past two years before the dramatic increase in 2012, are quick to justify their lobbying as a business necessity. Lockheed Martin spokeswoman Jennifer Allen told DefenseNews:
We’ve never seen a more problematic economic and global security environment in the U.S. and in so many economies around the world. That means the political leaders around the globe, and especially here at home, are going to have to make some very tough decisions. In this environment, there are many voices being raised, particularly in an election year, and we believe it is critical to have our voice heard on issues that are important to our future.
Aerospace contractors have been working overtime to have their “voice heard.” The industry hypes misleading statistics showing the oversized effects of cuts in military spending on economic growth and, in the case of Lockheed Martin, threatens the jobs of its own workers to fight looming sequestration.
While U.S. based military contractors claim to care about U.S. workers and supporting local economies — although a recent study shows that public sector investment in education, health care and clean energy produce 50 percent more jobs per dollar spent — aerospace and defense companies are already looking abroad to sell their products. Military contractors have racked up $500 billion in “incentive deals” — contracts which often take form of investments by the contractor in the buying country’s defense industry — to secure weapons sales with foreign countries through 2016. Reuters notes that such deals with foreign governments are done with little oversight and are “seen as a particularly fertile area” for corruption.