When the Supreme Court handed down the Citizens United decision, many people predicted that big corporations would start buying elections, now that they were allowed to spend as much money as they wanted on campaigns. While that certainly might happen in the future, it hasn't happened so far, probably because they're worried about the PR backlash that could result from too much partisan activity. Instead, the ones donating millions have been extremely rich individuals, most of whom are Republicans. But that doesn't mean corporations don't have clever ways of playing the political game. To wit:
Lockheed Martin is contemplating a pre-election move that could shake up the political landscape.
Right before Election Day, the company is likely to notify the "vast majority" of its 123,000 workers that they're at risk of being laid off, said Greg Walters, the company's vice president of legislative affairs.
Walters's comments are some of the most specific threats yet from an industry that's trying to head off the $500 billion in automatic cuts in defense spending set to begin taking effect Jan. 2. Called sequestration, the cuts are being phased in over 10 years, with about $55 billion slated for 2013.
Lockheed Martin spent $15 million lobbying last year, but you have to give them points for creativity on this one. Sending out threatening letters to most of their 123,000 employees saying, in effect, that Congress is about to cost them their jobs, is a great way to generate some pressure. After all, those employees are spread across the country in lots of congressional districts. And the fact that the actual layoffs at the company that would result from sequestration are probably minimal? Details, details.
Let's understand just what Lockheed Martin is. The nation's largest weapons manufacturer, the company has received just under a quarter of a trillion taxpayer dollars over the last ten years. Yes, that's trillion with a T. Here are the figures, which can be found at USASpending.gov:
Keep in mind also that sequestration would reduce U.S. military spending by $55 billion next year. According to OMB, defense spending for 2012 totals $716 billion, meaning it would be reduced to an anemic $661 billion, which is about double what we spent on the military in 2001, and still about as much as every other country in the world spends on their militaries combined. But rest assured, should sequestration happen, folks like Lockheed and their congressional allies will wail that our defenses have been gutted and we're left vulnerable to attack.