Paul Krugman makes a striking observation that has sat beneath my radar about the U.S. Defense department’s budget all this time. I used to scream and holler about the bloated defense spending in this country (still do in fact) on destructive forces along with many items that served no real need for our modern military.
An example of the latter is Lockheed Martin/Boeing’s F-22 Raptor jet that no one in the Pentagon really wants, but many in Congress do to appease Lockheed Martin/Boeing, or in mixed company with his or her voting constituency an elected official would refer to it as “important job creation “. With the full support of the GOP back in 2009 the Democratic-led House Armed Services Committee stripped $369 million for environmental cleanup – a job creator – to find enough money in the fiscal 2010 budget to fund an additional 12 F-22s.
But these are tough economic times and as Krugman matter-of-factly notes:
Military spending does create jobs when the economy is depressed. Indeed, much of the evidence that Keynesian economics works comes from tracking the effects of past military buildups. Some liberals dislike this conclusion, but economics isn’t a morality play: spending on things you don’t like is still spending, and more spending would create more jobs. SOURCE
With all the hollering and hammering by TeaParty-GOPers about how government can’t create jobs along with the equally baseless claim that tax cuts for millionaires is a job creator, we discover that they are really just hypocrites when it applies to defense spending.
The super-committee that was formed by Congress shortly after the fiasco about raising the debt ceiling was resolved this last summer (albeit temporarily) but now has to come up with some other, more permanent cuts next month that the full committee agrees on or there will be automatic cuts across the board. Not just in the areas that many conservatives and Libertarians are salivating over like Social Security and Medicare, but also in areas that they do not want to see, specifically cuts in the DoD’s budget.
Many of them are unabashedly opposed to cuts in Defense because they say it will kill jobs. Think about that for a minute. The anti-government crowd is affirming that the federal contracts with many private businesses, which are paid with tax payers dollars, not only established new jobs at one time, they sustain them as long as the Defense budget is kept pumped with public funds. Those in Congress who support such federal spending are pretty much the same ones opposed to Obama’s Job plan that seeks to stimulate job growth through infra-structure repairs and on energy efficient projects like high-speed rail, wind and solar innovation and retro-fitting government buildings and fleets to run off of renewable, cheaper energy sources.
We need jobs bad and we need them now but conservatives in Congress can’t own up to the reality that, as Krugman puts it, “spending on things you don’t like is still spending.” The business acumen that affirms “you have to spend money to make money” seems totally lost on those who want to eliminate spending on needed programs simply because they’re not ideologically sound in the Tea Party-Libertarian view of things. Infrastructure spending is spread out and not necessarily dominated by a national or even international corporate interests; that power element within the top 1% that tends to pull the strings of many in Congress and even dictate how to write legislation benefitting these wealthy interests.
Spending on infrastructure repairs has a multiplier affect too, creating jobs that benefit more businesses. Repairing bridges and roads better enables those vehicles who transport the parts for the unwanted F-22 Raptor jets while it also generates jobs that feed the truckers and repairs their vehicles. As these businesses expand there is a greater need for other retail services that accompany the influx of new workers.
The same occurs when you replace older manufacturing jobs with newer ones in the fields of renewable energy. Developing countries like China and India are beginning to dominate this 21st century opportunity, leaving the U.S. to catch up. We need to make stronger advances to make sure that the U.S. is competitive in this new growth field.
The finite sources of fossil fuels is not lost on these two expanding economies and they are fully aware that to sustain their growth they are going to need vast quantities of easily attainable and cheaper sources of energy along with the huge amounts of coal and oil they are already drawing from the global supply of limited resources.
Social welfare spending on things like Medicare/Medicaid, Unemployment benefits and Food Stamps are not entities that can stuff campaign coffers with big bucks but they do have a healthy impact on the economy, despite the reservations of anti-government types. Sustaining such programs does have negative consequences for the deficit when unemployment rates climb and tax revenue is removed but the money spent on such programs goes directly back into the economy and keeps some businesses from going under in tough recession conditions like those we are currently experiencing. In a healthy economy where there are high rates of employment and a livable wage, the need and thus the burden for such programs diminishes. Our current deficit issue is more a factor of the Bush tax cuts and two foreign wars.
There was a time when traditional political conservatives felt the need to keep Defense spending at a reasonable level. Eisenhower’s warning about the threat from the military-industrial complex pretty much fell on deaf ears but back in 1989 then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney sought to cut $10 billion from the Pentagon’s budget
Cheney termed the proposed cuts “very, very painful” but said that there is no way to balance the budget “without offending somebody, without breaking some china, without stepping on some toes.”
Cheney’s budget–$305 billion for the 1990 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1–contains a 1% reduction after inflation from the current year’s spending plan. It marks the fifth consecutive year of real declines in defense spending, which has fallen 12% short of keeping pace with inflation since 1985.
But the $10 billion in reductions for 1990 represents only a down payment on a total of $64 billion that Cheney must pare from Reagan’s military spending goals over the next five years to meet the Bush Administration’s deficit-reduction targets. SOURCE
The issue of job creation by defense spending is apparent even today as one can attest to with the projected military spending for this month alone. I cringe at the thought of this reality but under such dire economic circumstances I am willing to forego my ideological bent to see Americans back on the job and off of the welfare rolls. TeaPublicans need to do the same and reciprocate by allowing the needed spending requested in Obama’s Job’s Plan.
The deficit matters but not half as much as job creation does right now and those on the Right need to swallow this tough pill and do what’s needed for ALL Americans. That means we need to raise taxes on the wealthiest 1% to spend on these essential job-creating programs and as the job market grows include the remaining 99% in fair proportion to their income.
To seek spending cuts in areas that hurts most Americans while ignoring them in others as efforts are also made to further reduce needed revenue through tax cuts is a short-sighted and callous approach to job creation – not to mention the hypocrisy of those who refuse to see how spending by the government is in fact a job creator
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