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The tank that could not be stopped


 Introducing our editorial cartoonist, Rob Tornoe

Introducing our editorial cartoonist, Rob Tornoe


The Army is in a battle to save $3 billion by halting work on the military’s premier M1 Abrams tank. Congress so far has blocked the Army’s proposal, in a move led by lawmakers that have received millions of dollars in campaign donations by the tank’s manufacturer, General Dynamics.

A deep analysis of spending and lobbying records by the Center for Public Integrity revealed that sharp spikes in the company’s donations - including a two-week period in 2011 when its employees and political action committee sent the lawmakers checks for their campaigns totaling nearly $50,000 - roughly coincided with five legislative milestones for the Abrams, including committee hearings and votes and the defense bill’s final passage last year.

This is our first investigative article in a new series entitled "The Gift Economy" about the financial relationships between certain members of Congress and top contractors for the Defense Department.

The article states: "The $3 billion at stake in this fight is not a large sum in Pentagon terms - it’s roughly what the building spends every 82 minutes. But the fight over the Abrams’ future, still unfolding, illuminates the major pressures that drive the current defense spending debate... These include a Pentagon looking to free itself from legacy projects and modernize some of its combat strategy, a Congress looking to defend pet projects, and a well-financed and politically savvy defense industry with deep ties to both, fighting tooth-and-nail to fend off even small reductions in the budget now devoted to the military..."