How the “Fix the Debt” Budget Lobby is Protecting Billions in Defense Contracts for its Corporate Backers
Fix the Debt – a powerful, corporate-backed lobbying group advocating debt reduction with a $60 million budget – has failed to embrace defense spending cuts as a viable deficit reduction option, despite the fact that defense spending makes up over half of discretionary spending.
The group’s “core principles” focus on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid reforms and “pro-growth” tax reform, and fail to even mention defense spending. Elsewhere on its website, Fix the Debt identifies the sequester’s automatic defense spending decrease not as a potential contributor to deficit reduction, but rather as cause for concern.
Fix the Debt’s eagerness to point the finger at social safety net spending while virtually ignoring defense spending makes more sense in light of its corporate backing. A review of the group’s corporate ties shows that many Fix the Debt leaders have lucrative connections to companies with billions of dollars in defense contracts:
- 38 Fix the Debt leaders have ties to 43 companies with defense contracts totaling $43.4 billion in 2012. Fix the Debt leaders profiting from defense spending include the group’s co-chairs, steering committee members, and CEO council members; they have ties to these companies as board members, executives and CEOs, and lobbyists.
- Boeing (with $25.1 billion in defense contracts) and Northrop Grumman (with $8.5 billion) lead the pack. Boeing CEO W. James McNerney, Jr. is on Fix the Debt’s CEO Council, and Northrop Grumman board member Vic Fazio is on Fix the Debt’s steering committee.
- Four other Fix the Debt-linked companies have more than $1 billion in 2012 defense contracts: GE ($2.1 billion), Textron ($2 billion), Honeywell ($1.5 billion), and World Fuel Services ($1.2 billion).
- The 38 Fix the Debt leaders with ties to defense contractors drew at least $401 million in compensation from the 43 companies in 2011 – an average of $10.6 million each.
- Honeywell and GE each have ties to three Fix the Debt leaders, more than any other defense contractor.
- Outside of Fix the Debt’s CEO Council, four individuals in Fix the Debt’s core leadership group have strong ties to defense contractors: co-chair Judd Gregg (director, Honeywell), and steering committee members Sam Nunn (director, GE, Hess, Coca-Cola), Vic Fazio (director, Northrop Grumman), and Jim McCrery (lobbyist, GE and Chevron). None of these ties are disclosed on the campaign’s website; all four are characterized as former members of Congress.