By Jeff Rainforth
Flying back to California from Washington D.C. after covering CPAC, I had the good fortune to sit next to a Major in the Marine Corps.
I didn’t know he was a Marine until after much discussion. I was wearing my CPAC media badge, and he asked about the event. I explained to the Major that I covered the convention for a news site (this one) that was founded by a triple-amputee Iraq War vet. I went on to say that all of the GOP presidential candidates were supposed to be there, but Trump had canceled his appearance to campaign for the day’s primaries.
The Major, (whose name I won’t mention because he’s active duty, and he couldn’t go on the record) then responded why he’s all in for Trump. He began talking about how Trump is “self-funding” his campaign, and why the GOP establishment, and defense contractors are afraid of a Trump presidency.
The Major went on to describe how he’d seen so much money spent on weapons systems and items that the military didn’t want because defense contractors had contributed to politicians in return for lucrative deals.
“Contractors are afraid that if Trump becomes president, they won’t be able to influence politicians who can steer defense contracts their way,” he said. The Major continued, “Politicians are afraid contractors will no longer give to their re-election campaigns.”
I mentioned President Eisenhower’s warning to Americans about the “military-industrial complex.” The Major replied, “That’s who’s afraid of Trump. It’s all about money.” He believes this is why so many in the GOP establishment are trying to stop Trump from becoming the nominee. They’re protecting their campaign contributors in the defense industry.
Trump, in a speech before the New Hampshire primary said, “I hear stories, like they’re ordering missiles they don’t want because of politics, because of special interests, because the company that makes the missiles is a contributor.”
In an interview with Chuck Todd on Meet the Press last October, Trump said, “I’m gonna build a military that’s gonna be much stronger than it is right now, It’s gonna be so strong, nobody’s gonna mess with us. But you know what? We can do it for a lot less.”
The Major went on about Trump self-funding his campaign saying, “He’s not taking money from special interests, from corporations, from lobbyists, etc. They have nothing on him. Because he’s not taking their money, he won’t be beholden to them.” The Major continued, “This is what we need. Someone who can come in and clean up the waste and abuse, and get the military what it needs, not what politicians and special interests want.”
As we can see from the charts below, defense contractors give a lot to politicians. (Source: Open Secrets)
In 2015, defense lobbyists gave over $73 million to politicians.
Contractors favor Republicans over Democrats.
Some of the top recipients of defense contractor’s money.
While Trump wants to eliminate special interest influence on defense spending which would allow the DoD to buy more for less, and allow the defense budget to be reduced, candidates Cruz & Rubio want to increase defense spending.
According to CNN, Rubio wants to increase defense spending by $1 trillion over 10 years.
As for Cruz, the CATO Institute estimated that his defense spending plan “would cost roughly $2.6 trillion over the next eight years.”
Both Rubio and Cruz have enjoyed contributions from defense contractors.
The Major, who’s been in the Marines for over 15 years, and has seen how special interests influence politicians and spending, believes there is a better way. He wants Trump to come in, and clean up what he sees as a corrupted system.
The Major believes as President Eisenhower so famously stated: “We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex.”