Friday, December 16, 2011

Easily Bought

I had thought about titling this post "Cheap Whores", but then it occurred to me that such a title would be unnecessarily insulting to decent sex workers everywhere. They at least work hard and provide a service. Some of our congress critters clearly don't do either.

It’s the steal of the century. For the price of buying a condo in Washington, D.C., you can support the political campaigns of members of Congress who support your trillion-dollar program. Talk about return on investment!

On November 9, Reps. Kay Granger (R-Texas) and Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) announced the formation of a Congressional Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Caucus that they are co-chairing. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the most expensive program in Pentagon history, and it has been plagued by delays, cost overruns and defects that have raised eyebrows at the Pentagon and in Congress (the latest official report on JSF problems was made public by POGO yesterday). As of its announcement, the JSF Caucus had 48 members of the House on its roster. ...

The primary contractors building the JSF -- Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems and Pratt & Whitney -- have contributed $326,400 to members of the JSF Caucus in the first year of the 2012 election cycle, according to a joint analysis of campaign finance data by the Center for Responsive Politics and the Project on Government Oversight (POGO). These firms’ political action committees (PACs), which distribute campaign contributions to promote the contractors’ political goals, gave the average member of the JSF Caucus $6,094 -- nearly double what they gave to the average representative not in the caucus ($3,077).

And, it’s not just the corporate PACs that are funneling money to these legislators; individuals working for these firms also disproportionately direct their campaign contributions to these representatives.

In fact, thus far in the 2012 election cycle, the average member of the JSF Caucus has received nearly twice as much money ($706) from employees of the top four JSF contractors as the average House member who is not in the JSF Caucus ($387).

The F-35, years late and still deeply flawed, is turning out to be one of the greatest boondoggles in Pentagon history. Many in the military are so disgusted that they've made it clear that they don't even want the fighter jet, especially with the latest problems which will cost about $1 million per plane to fix, thereby adding to the cost over-run.

So why are members of the Joint Strike Fighter working so hard to keep the plane in production? The official reason is the program provides jobs in their respective district. I tend to think the "donations" from the contractors and their employees have a great deal to do with it.

What surprises me is how little money it takes to buy off members of Congress. I guess that the corporate cookie jar I mentioned yesterday has all sorts of goodies in it.

Nothing new here; move along, move along.

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