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Now fights spending cuts

October 31, 2011

U.S. is the worlds' biggest military spender. With over 700 military bases in 130 countries, the military spending by the U.S. government is almost as much as that of the rest of the world put together.
(NATIONAL) -- You may not see this one on your nightly newscast or in your local or regional newspaper, so pay attention.

GOP congressman Buck McKeon of California once attacked the Obama stimulus plan because “more (government) spending is not what California or this country needs.”

Now he loves government spending.

Two weeks ago, writing in The Wall Street Journal, McKeon — now Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee — sternly warned Americans, at least those that read the Wall Street Journal, that the defense cuts that are scheduled to take place if the federal government's “supercommittee” fails to agree on deficit spending cuts will, “eliminate jobs and raise the unemployment rate.”

Now Government spending is good. Government spending means jobs.

What’s going on here? Have GOP members forgotten it's that old devil government spending that got America in a bind?

“Faced with this prospect (a cut in defense spending), Republicans — who normally insist that the government can’t create jobs, and who have argued that lower, not higher, federal spending is the key to recovery — have rushed to oppose any cuts in military spending. Why? Because, they say, such cuts would destroy jobs,” writes economist Paul Krugman in a new Op-Ed piece in the New York Times.

So why would anyone in their right mind think government spending on weapons – some which the government never deployed and became bottomless pits of wasted taxpayer money – would be “good” spending and would be good for the country, but spending money replacing the nation's aging infrastructure or in creating new energy sources be “bad” spending?

Krugman again:

“Military spending does create jobs when the economy is depressed…some liberals dislike this conclusion, but economics isn’t a morality play…but why would anyone prefer spending on destruction to spending on construction, prefer building weapons to building bridges?

John Maynard Keynes himself offered a partial answer 75 years ago, when he noted a curious “preference for wholly ‘wasteful’ forms of loan expenditure rather than for partly wasteful forms, which, because they are not wholly wasteful, tend to be judged on strict ‘business’ principles.” Indeed. Spend money on some useful goal, like the promotion of new energy sources, and people start screaming, “Solyndra! Waste!” Spend money on a weapons system we don’t need, and those voices are silent, because nobody expects F-22s to be a good business proposition.

To deal with this preference, Keynes whimsically suggested burying bottles full of cash in disused mines and letting the private sector dig them back up. In the same vein, I recently suggested that a fake threat of alien invasion, requiring vast anti-alien spending, might be just the thing to get the economy moving again.”

Krugman also says there are darker motives for this “weaponized Keynesianism” as he call it.

For the GOP to admit that “public spending on useful projects can create jobs” is to admit that such spending can in fact do good -- that sometimes government is the solution, not the problem.

And fear that voters might reach the same conclusion is, he says, the main reason the right has always seen Keynesian economics as a leftist doctrine, when it’s actually nothing of the sort.

Krugman’s piece is here

According to the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) which tracks defense spending, U.S. spending (adjusted for inflation) on national security is higher than at any point during the Cold War and accounts for more than half of all discretionary spending -- yet the U.S. faces no existential threats as the country did in the Cold War and the country is drawing down in Iraq and Afghanistan, by far the two biggest wars abroad.

Even leaving aside war-related spending, the Department of Defense’s (DoD) base budget has increased 60 percent since 2001, adjusted for inflation.

“Nuclear weapons spending at the Department of Energy (DOE) is growing by leaps and bounds and the federal government’s reliance on contractors, most of whom work on national security-related work and who usually cost significantly more than federal workers do to do the same tasks, is also driving budgets through the roof. Therefore, any serious proposal to shrink our deficit must include cuts to our national security budget,” says POGO in a report in its website.



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