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Carl Levin continues to support bloated military budget and corporate welfare for weapons contractors

June 21, 2011

On Friday, Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin announced that the committee has completed its “mark up” of the 2012 Defense Authorization Act.

The proposed military budget for 2012 is as big as ever with Levin not only approving of the largest military budget in the world but gloats over the amount of contracts he was able to secure for Michigan contractors.

The report from the Senate Armed Services Committee is lengthy, but we’ll provide some of the major highlights of this bloated military budget:

  • Extends through fiscal year 2017 significant funding for counter-insurgency training and programs, specifically for Afghanistan.
  • Ongoing funding for projects fighting WMDs.
  • $12.8 billion for Afghan Security Forces.
  • Billions in funding to promote the use of renewable energy sources for the military – like that is not the most absurd contradiction ever.
  • Authorizes $10.4 billion for U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), an increase of 6 percent above fiscal year 2011 levels.
  • Renewal of DOD contracts for the failed War on Drugs.
  • Increased funding for ballistic missiles.

This bloated military budget comes with perks for weapons contractors in Michigan. Here is a listing of the companies and the amount of the contracts they were awarded in the 2012 military budget:

  • $444 million for the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV). Arvin Meritor of Troy, AAR Mobility of Cadillac, and a number of other Michigan companies are involved in the production of FMTVs.
  • $685.8 million for the Army’s Stryker armored vehicle. General Dynamics Land Systems of Sterling Heights is the prime contractor for the Stryker armored vehicle. Many Michigan companies serve as suppliers in support of this program.
  • $161.6 million for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) recapitalization. Many Michigan companies support the HMMWV program as suppliers.
  • $663.9 million for the Abrams Main Battle Tank program. General Dynamics Land Systems of Sterling Heights is the prime contractor for the Abrams program and more than 200 Michigan companies serve as suppliers.
  • $34.6 million for the Lightweight 155mm Howitzer. Howmet Castings of Whitehall is a major contractor for the Lightweight 155mm Howitzer program.
  • $674.5 million for the Family of Heavy Tactical Vehicles. Detroit Diesel manufactures and supplies the engine for this program.
  • $3.34 billion for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles. Spartan Chassis of Charlotte, Arvin Meritor of Troy, and Demmer Corporation of Lansing and many other Michigan companies are involved in this program.
  • $250.7 million for Bradley Fighting Vehicle modifications. L-3 of Muskegon is a major contractor for the Bradley program.
  • $1.8 billion for Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) construction.  Marinette Marine, just across the Michigan border in Wisconsin, is one of two shipyards building LCS and employs several hundred Michigan residents and relies on many Michigan suppliers.

In addition, there is $2 billion allocated for universities to conduct research for the Department of Defense. Levin states, “Many Michigan universities perform high quality fundamental research for the Department of Defense in all fields of science and technology.”

It should come as no surprise to those who follow campaign finance that Senator Levin would fight so hard for military contracts to come to Michigan, especially since military contractors like General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin have been significant contributors to Levin over the years.

Some might argue that these contracts provide jobs in Michigan and while that is true the amount of money allocated to the military industrial complex in Michigan in the form of jobs is miniscule compared to the amount of money that has left Michigan to fund the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.

According to the National Priorities Project over $32 billion has left Michigan to fund these wars over the last 10 years while our schools are grossly underfunded, our infrastructure crumbles and the number of people living in poverty increases.

The “liberal” Senator Levin continues to demonstrate that he is beholden to the military industrial complex with his support for weapons manufacturers. At the same time Carl Levin’s support for the highly militarized foreign policy of the US shows he is a zealous supporter of the US imperial project abroad.

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