See below an edited version of what I received from Michael Tabor, Progressive Neighbors, 240 505-6282 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Do what you can do!
HELP STOP THE LOCKHEED MARTIN BILL - WHAT YOU CAN DO
We must stop this blatant and outrageous example of corporate welfare. A 47 billion dollar a year corporation wants to steal Maryland taxpayer money, and the Maryland Senate with only nine dissenting voices wants this taxpayer theft to take place. We must get the House of Delegates to STOP THE LOCKHEED MARTIN RIP-OFF. This corporation is funded by the taxpayer to develop weapons for warmongering, and now this chiseling corporation wants a bit of chump change from the taxpayers. The corporate arrogance is off the charts. See below for more details.
We must stop HB 815, and our first chance is to keep it from getting out of the House Ways and Means (W&M) committee. A vote in the committee is expected on Thursday, March 28, 2013. Two amendments have also been introduced. One allows a 2-year sunset provision that gives Lockheed $1 million but requires the bill to be revisited in 2 years, making it an issue during the next election. The other amendment strictly limits the tax benefit for when Lockheed employees use the facility. If the amendment[s] stick, the bill has to be sent back to the Senate, and then back to the House. Time could run out during the process (which stops the legislation).
So here's what you can do:
1. Email or call House Speaker MICHAEL E. BUSCH and let him know how you feel. If you live in D-30 (Anne Arundel Co.) you are his constituent; but even if you aren't, contact him at 301 858-3800 or email@example.com.
2. Call or email BILL FRICK (D-16), who heads a subcommittee in W&M, at 301 858-3457 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He's a big backer of Lockheed but his district is very liberal and he poses as a progressive. However, his district includes the River Road Unitarian Church and his senator (Brian Frosh) voted against the bill.
3. There are eight votes in Frick's sub-committee. If we can get five of those votes, the bill can be stopped. If not, we can fall back on the two amendments described above. Our hope is that the lengthy process with the amendments will prevent the bill from being voted on during this session.
Here are the subcommittee members and their contact information:
ANDREW SERAFINI (R-2), Washington Co; 301 858-3447; email@example.com
MELVIN STUKES (D-44), Baltimore City; 410 858-3544; firstname.lastname@example.org
ALONZO WASHINGTON (D-22), Prince George's County; 301 858-3652; email@example.com
NINA HARPER (D-45), Baltimore City; 410 858-3486; firstname.lastname@example.org
KUMAR BARVE (D-17), Montgomery County; 301 858-3464; email@example.com
MARK FISHER (R - 27B), Eastern Shore; 301 858-3231; firstname.lastname@example.org
ARUNA MILLER (D-15), Montgomery County; 301 358-3090; email@example.com
4. All the members of the Ways and Means Committee should be contacted. The list of the rest of the committee members is below. If you have time to call all the committee members, ask to speak to the delegate's AA about the delegate's stand on the bill (HB 815). Keep track of the responses please, and send them back to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the end, we need 71 delegate votes to stop the bill or amend it. So, all delegates should hear from as many of us as possible. The hope is that if the bill goes back to the Senate, it may be possible for some of the senators to change their vote on the bill and vote for the amendments. Then it still goes back to the House and time might run out this session.
Thanks for your time to help stop this bill. It will be time well spent. Don't forget to use the Ways and Means Committee contact list below to make the rest of your calls.
LIST OF THE REST OF THE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE TO CONTACT
If you're calling from a 410 area code, use the 410 area code for all; if you're calling from a 301 area code, use 301 for all the area codes.
All emails follow the same pattern: email@example.com
1. LeRoy Myers (R-1C) 301 858-3321
2. Kathy Afzali (R-4A) 301 858-3288
3. Joseph Boteler (R-8) 301 858-3365
4. Jon Cardin (D-11) 301 858-3833
5. Frank Turner (D-13) 301 858-3246
6. Anne Kaiser (D-14) 301 858-3036
7. Eric Luedke (D-14) 301 858-3310
8. Sheila Hixson (D-20) 301 858-3469
9. Carolyn Howard (D-24) 301 858-3919
10. Jay Walker (D-26) 301 858-3581
11. Ron George (R-30) 301 858-3439
Professor of History emeritus, SUNY Albany
Lockheed Martin at the Trough
03/21/2013 4:13 pm
What do hungry children and the world's largest military contractor have in common? Not much, it seems. At the very time when (thanks to sequestration) state governments are cutting back aid to low income women and their children, the government of the State of Maryland seems en route to providing the Lockheed Martin Corporation with a handout worth millions of dollars.
Lockheed Martin, which did $47 billion in business during 2012 -- mostly weapons sales to the U.S. government -- owns a very large, luxurious hotel and conference center in Montgomery County, Maryland. In 2010, the corporation succeeded in getting the state to exempt it from paying the state lodging tax that all other Maryland hotels paid.
Then it sought exemption from paying Montgomery County's 7 percent lodging tax. But the County Council, realizing that this would pull $450,000 per year out of its annual revenues -- revenues that it used to fund education and other public services -- refused to give way to corporate pressure. Indeed, it pointed out that the lodging costs of the company's employees at the hotel, including taxes, were already subsidized through Lockheed Martin's contracts with the federal government. The company readily admitted this, but stated: "The fact that some percentage of those costs over time can be reimbursed by the federal government doesn't reduce the need to lower our overhead costs whenever we can."
Rebuffed on the local level, Lockheed Martin turned once more to its friends in the state government, championing a bill that would exempt it from Montgomery County taxes and, furthermore, force the county to provide it with a $1.4 million refund for past tax payments.
But this new company demand sparked a lively citizens' campaign in opposition to what was dubbed the "Corporate Welfare for Lockheed Bill." Dozens of organizations threw themselves into the battle, including advocacy groups (Common Cause, Fund Our Communities, Progressive Neighbors, Progressive Maryland, and the NAACP), labor unions (United Food and Commercial Workers, SEIU, and unions representing teachers, police, and fire fighters), and peace groups (Peace Action, Pax Christi, and Maryland United for Peace and Justice). Articles started to appear in the press. Local politicians began to speak out against the legislation. The County Council again voted its opposition to exempting Lockheed Martin from taxation.
Faced with an upsurge of popular resistance, the State Senate sent the measure back to committee, where it was amended to eliminate the provision for retroactive payment to Lockheed. This action reportedly infuriated a Lockheed lobbyist and represented a small victory for opponents of the legislation. Nevertheless, a bill providing for the corporation's future tax exemption went forward, and was passed by the Senate on the night of March 13 by a vote of 37 to 9. The large majority included all but one Republican, as well as a substantial number of Democrats.
A counterpart bill is expected to reach the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Delegates soon. Given the controversy surrounding the measure, its fate remains uncertain. But the corporation seems determined to press forward.
Actually, Lockheed Martin has a long track record when it comes to enriching itself through government support. Its C-130 military transport plane has been a major source of profit for the company. Although, in the late 1970s, the Carter administration concluded that the very costly plane was no longer necessary, Lockheed's friends in Congress saw to it that the U.S. government purchased 256 of them over the next two decades. In response to a request from Senator John McCain, the Government Accountability Office did a study of how many of these planes the U.S. Air Force had ordered. The answer was: five. Finding no use for the hundreds of planes, the Air Force simply parked many of them on airport runways, where they gathered dust.
And so it goes. Making vastly expensive weapons systems for the government remains a lucrative business. Lockheed has already forecast a record profit in 2013. A January 2013 article in Bloomberg News reported: "Lockheed's fortunes depend in large measure on the F-35 jet fighter, its biggest program and the Pentagon's costliest weapon system, at an estimated development cost of $395.7 billion."
Of course, Lockheed keeps billions of dollars flowing into its coffers by spending millions every year on lobbying and millions more on campaign contributions. According to Dina Rasor of the Project on Government Oversight, Lockheed is "the ultimate pay-to-play contractor."
In this context, it's not surprising that Lockheed has enormous influence in Maryland politics. Over the past year, Lockheed contributed $25,000 to the Maryland Democratic Party, plus thousands of additional dollars to the President of the Maryland Senate, the Senate Democratic Majority Leader, the chair of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, another member of that committee, and a member of the House of Delegates. Four of the five became co-sponsors of the Lockheed tax exemption legislation and all four Senate members voted for it.
This coziness with Lockheed Martin can also become a source of embarrassment now that the issue is hot. A day after the State Senate voted to send the legislation to the House Ways and Means Committee, a private dinner between Lockheed lobbyists and the members of that committee was abruptly canceled.
Of course, it might well be asked why Lockheed Martin bothers with getting itself exempted from Montgomery County taxes. After all, $4.5 million over the next decade is small change to this giant corporation.
One reason might be that most wealthy people genuinely believe that they are entitled to keep every cent of their income. This certainly explains why they resist paying taxes so ferociously.
Another possibility, though, is that Lockheed Martin, like most other military contractors, has grown accustomed to thriving at government expense. Thus, it just can't resist going back to the public trough for a little more corporate welfare.
Lawrence Wittner is Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany. His latest book is Working for Peace and Justice: Memoirs of an Activist Intellectual (University of Tennessee Press).