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Data: FactSet; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

America's defense contractors aren't celebrating Joe Biden's victory. They haven't accepted defeat yet, but they are digging in for budgetary battles.

Why it matters: The biggest companies in the military-industrial complex tend to see increasing revenues only under Republican presidents.

By the numbers: Axios looked at the total revenues for Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics — the heart of America's defense industry. (We didn't include Boeing because so much of its business is civilian aircraft.)

  • At the end of the Clinton administration, the four companies collectively generated just under $70 billion over the previous 12 months.
  • George W Bush then launched two costly wars in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. By the end of his term, those four companies' revenue had risen 136% to $165 billion.
  • The Obama years saw effectively no change, with total 12-month revenues dipping slightly to $163 billion after eight years.
  • Then Trump arrived. For all his determination to pull American troops out of foreign conflicts, he also promised to replenish stockpiles that were depleted by the Budget Control Act. Annual revenues of the four defense contractors rose 30% in his first three years in office, hitting a peak of $211 billion.

Between the lines: Biden has indicated that he doesn't plan drastic cuts to the Pentagon's $705 billion budget. “I don’t think [budget cuts] are inevitable, but we need priorities,” Biden told Stars and Stripes in September.

  • The priorities include some $3 trillion in non-defense spending, which puts pressure on him to shrink the Pentagon's budget.
  • The defense industry is banking on congressional Republicans. "We are more interested in who controls the Senate than the White House," an industry source told Axios.

The bottom line: The four defense contractors are now collectively worth $304 billion. That's down $70 billion, or 19%, from the February high. The market clearly does not believe that Biden will be as generous to arms dealers as Trump was.

Go deeper

McConnell circulates revised GOP coronavirus stimulus plan

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell talks with reporters today in the Mansfield Room at the U.S. Capitol. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Image

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell circulated a new framework for coronavirus stimulus legislation to Republican members on Tuesday that would establish a fresh round of funding for the small-business Paycheck Protection Program and implement widespread liability protections, according to a copy of the draft proposal obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: The revised GOP relief plan comes after McConnell's meeting with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, during which they went over in detail what provisions would get backing from President Trump.

Senate Armed Services chair dismisses Trump threat to veto defense bill

Sen. Jim Inhofe. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters Wednesday that he plans to move ahead with a crucial defense-spending bill without provisions that would eliminate tech industry protections, defying a veto threat from President Trump.

Why it matters: Inhofe's public rebuke signals that the Senate could have enough Republican backing to override a potential veto from Trump, who has demanded that the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Biden's economic team will write a new crisis playbook

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Joe Biden's economic team faces a daunting task helping the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs or otherwise been financially ravaged by the coronavirus. But most of them have first-hand crisis experience, dating back to when Barack Obama inherited a crumbling economy when he took office in 2009.

Why it matters: Most of President-elect Biden's economic nominees served in the Obama administration, and wish that they could have gone bigger to help America recover from the 2008 financial crisis. But it's not going to be easy for them to push through massive fiscal spending in 2021.