Turning Deaf Ear to Baltimore Protesters, Congress Moves Instead to Hike Defense Spending

Though Baltimore protesters have called for political leaders to address unemployment, lawmakers are dismissing their concerns and instead moving to give more taxpayer money to defense contractors.

NEWPORT, WALES - SEPTEMBER 04: An F-35 Lighting II fighter jet sits on the golf course surrounding the Celtic Manor Hotel during the NATO Summit on September 4, 2014 in Newport, Wales. Leaders and senior ministers from around 60 countries are meeting at what has been billed as the most important Nato summit since the end of the cold war with the situation in Ukraine and the threat of ISIS likely to be top of the agenda.  (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

(This post is from our new blog: Unofficial Sources.)

Demonstrators in the streets of Baltimore are calling for police reform and economic revitalization in their city, but Washington isn’t listening.

Lawmakers have had other things on their mind, namely rewarding their donors by increasing spending on defense. This week, Congress moved to increase spending on weapons programs by $3 billion beyond what the Pentagon requested.

On Monday, the House Armed Services Committee, in what Politico described as “a clear win for defense contractors,” unveiled legislation to boost defense spending to “$117 billion — $3 billion higher than the Pentagon’s fiscal 2016 budget request.” Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., a member of the committee, has demanded increased military spending, telling Reuters earlier this year, “It doesn’t do any good to be financially responsible if you’re dead, so I’m going to vote for it to protect national security.”

Earlier this month, the Government Accountability Office cast increased doubt on the F-35 fighter jet program, noting that the weapons system still faces critical engine and software problems. The F-35 is the most expensive weapons program in American history, with some estimates projecting that the jet will eventually cost taxpayers some $1.45 trillion.

But like other defense contractors, the manufacturers behind the F-35, including Lockheed Martin, are big players when it comes to campaign spending and lobbying. And the House Armed Services Committee spending plan released this week calls for even more spending on the F-35 program.

Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty 

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