Sanders: Our Contractors Guilty of War Profiteering

Vermont senator slams excess defense spending, suggests revival of Truman Committee
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 29, 2024 3:05 PM CST
Sanders: US Priorities 'Badly Misplaced' on Military Spending
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., talks with reporters following a meeting with President Biden at the White House in Washington on Aug. 30.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Bernie Sanders has long been a strong advocate for health care for all and affordable child care and housing, among other progressive platforms. But "America's national priorities are badly misplaced," the independent Vermont senator writes in an op-ed for the Atlantic, with too much money in Sanders' opinion being funneled toward military spending ultimately funded by taxpayers.

  • The numbers: The senator writes that the US is set to pony up about $900 billion this year alone for our armed forces, and "almost half of this amount will go to a handful of huge defense contractors enjoying immense profits."
  • 'War profiteering': Sanders talks about the surging stock prices of arms makers, as well as the "outrageous" price increases that defense contractors have implemented over the years, citing as one example the sevenfold spike in the price of Stinger missiles manufactured by RTX Corporation (the former Raytheon) since 1991. "There's a name for all this: war profiteering," Sanders writes.

  • The Ukraine effect: The senator says there's been an uptick in those massive profits since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022—and while Sanders thinks it's "both morally right and strategically necessary" to give Ukraine the funds and equipment it needs to win the war, "many defense contractors seem willing to capitalize on the war to line their pockets."
  • Possible remedy: Sanders' proposed solution: the reinstatement of something akin to the Truman Committee, a bipartisan investigative body in Congress under President Harry Truman set up to keep tabs on defense contractors and recoup excessive payouts. "No one denies that we need a strong military," Sanders writes. "But, like every other agency of government, [the Pentagon] must be run efficiently and cost-effectively. It cannot simply be a cash cow for a handful of giant corporations."

Read Sanders' piece in full here. (More defense contractors stories.)

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