Background photo: US Customs and Border Protection

Most of the look-at-this-grifty-shit reporting on the Republicans' trillion-dollar economic stimulus bill has focused on the nearly $2 billion in "emergency" funding to rebuild the FBI's headquarters in its current location near Donald Trump's DC Trash Palace, thus ensuring nobody else could buy the land and put up a competing hotel. But Politico reporter Connor O'Brien noticed some other interesting spending lines in the bill, too! Like $8 billion in spending for weapons systems. That breaks down to

  • $1 billion for Navy P-8 anti-submarine/anti-ship planes
  • $2 billiion for F-35 fighters, C-130J cargo planes, and a wing replacement program for A-10 attack jets
  • $2.2 billion for "four expeditionary medical ships" and an "Expeditionary Fast Transport" ship

Defense News has more on the fun military expenditures, which will largely help the struggling little mom and pop arms merchants Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Thanks to intense industry lobbying, another $11 billion will go to "reimburse defense contractors for coronavirus-related expenses, as authorized by Section 3610 of the CARES Act."

All we need now to confirm this is a big boondoggle is Donald Trump saying "We have to do this, we have no choice."

But wait! There's more! Another defense reporter, writer Oriana Pawlyk, who covers military aircraft and air war strategy, thought those particular systems sounded awfully familiar:

She posted a link to her own February story about the latest tranche of Pentagon spending that the administration was diverting to pay for Trump's WALL along the US-Mexico border. That included cuts to a number of weapons programs, including — hey,. presto! — the P-8, the F-35, and the C-130 programs, plus more. On top of that, Business Insider reported in February that the administration had axed funds for that "Spearhead-class Expeditionary Fast Transport Ship" to pay for WALL, too.

You know, guys, we almost get the feeling that this particular part of the spending package has very little to do with the pandemic. Call us cynical, just like MSNBC's Chris Hayes:

Now, we should note that the exact weapons systems and amounts of spending in the Rona bill aren't always a one-to-one match for the cuts made in February. Hell no: This stimmy is actually buying more military hardware than was cancelled in February. The total cuts in February came to $3.8 billion, and this new spending comes to at least $7 billion for war toys, plus the $11 billion to offset defense contractors' COVID-19 losses. Maybe there's just a really high inflation rate on that stuff, with which a fella could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas. The Washington Post has more details on the per-program increases, too. Fun Fact: The Fast Transport ship is built by a company in Alabama, home state to Senate Appropriations chair Richard Shelby. Constituent service with a smile!

Newsweek says it has asked Mitch McConnell to comment on the military spending, and we wish them all the luck in the world on that. McConnell did say in a Senate speech Monday that the Rona Relief package — this one's called the HEALS Act and we don't care what the acronym stands for — is very very necessary: "The American people need more help. They need it to be comprehensive." And aren't defense contractors people, after all?

Before you complain that Nancy Pelosi needs to pass continued unemployment, she did, and didn't even include immunity for businesses that get their customers or employees sick.

Even without the indirect WALL connection, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), vice-chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, had condemned the inclusion of military spending in a COVID-19 relief bill, which slashes emergency unemployment benefits from $600 a week to just $200 a week (until states figure out how to pay no more than 70 percent of workers' pre-coronavirus income). In a statement, Leahy pointed out the bill does nothing to prevent a likely wave of evictions that had been held off by the earlier CARES Act, and said,

If all of this were not bad enough, the bill contains billions of dollars for programs unrelated to the coronavirus, including over $8 billion for what appears to be a wish-list from the Department of Defense for manufacturing of planes, ships, and other weapons systems, as well as $1.75 billion to build a new FBI Headquarters.

"What does this have to do with the immediate crisis? The bill provides nothing to address the long lines at foodbanks and shortchanges education and childcare, but we can shore up the defense industry? I am at a loss for words.

We suppose it works like this: The stimulus bills are supposed to be helping Americans who've been hurt by the shutdowns that were necessary to contain the virus. But since the administration decided not to actually do anything to contain the virus, there's also no need for the relief bill to actually provide relief to the people it was intended for.

We can make that even more succinct: We may be in a crisis, but Republicans are scum and they really want their donors to keep doing well so they can continue to be donors. Also, it's very important to Donald Trump that he keep making as much money from his shitty DC hotel as possible, or the terrorists win.

And for Crom's sake, Democrats need to hammer on this from now until November, the end.

[ / Defense News / WaPo / Newsweek / WaPo]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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