Last year a select committee was asked to find ways to attack the national deficit. They came up with a plan which included a provision calling for massive cuts across the board. In the event Congress refused to adopt the report, automatic so-called sequestered cuts were mandated. Of course Congress did not act, so these cuts are scheduled to go into effect down the road. Who are you kidding? Congress is backpeddling on that agreement faster than a hiker who steps on a deadly snake.
Of the proposed cuts, about a hundred billion dollars worth were to come from the Defense budget. That will never happen, but the justification for the hesitancy bears scrutiny. The reason why this massive bloated Defense budget will not feel the sharp edge of the axe has little to do with national security! It involves jobs!
Billions of these dollars are spent on contracts with the nation’s industrial concerns. These dollars buy airplanes, ships, fuel, uniforms, mercenaries and everything else the military services require. Each of these contracts is let in somebody’s Congressional district or State. And not a single member of Congress is willing to have those contracts, and the jobs they call for, disappear. The Defense authorization is substantially a government paid-for jobs bill.
There is little difference between these Pentagon sponsored jobs and other efforts of government to stimulate the economy. The so-called automotive bailout is just like a Boeing contract. One calls for cars, and the other for airplanes. The President’s jobs bill that sits gathering dust in Congress calls for massive amounts of money put into highways, infrastructure repairs, rapid transit and municipal services like police, fire fighters and teachers. The funds would fundamentally go to the small businesses that create most of the new jobs. Any new effort to goose the economy is really a jobs bill — just as is much of the Defense Department allocation.
One wonders why anything spent in Defense Department contracts with businesses is good, but anything spent in the public sector with the same source of funds — the federal government — is somehow evil and the pathway to socialism.
The constant conservative complaint about big government somehow manages to ignore what makes our government really big, bloated and out of control. Perhaps it has to do with what President Eisenhower warned us against as he left office — the military-industrial complex.
Money put into the public sector which is geared to stimulate the economy, not only creates jobs but also provides products that someone will buy and use. Who uses another fighter plane? As some wag opined about missiles: you can’t eat them, wear them, ride in them or even look at them. You build them, put them in the ground or on submarines and hope to God they are never used.
A close examination tells us that while there continue to be significant numbers of jobs created in the private sector, the real loss has been and continues to be in state and local governments. Read police, fire fighters and schoolteachers. Putting the financial squeeze on governmental entities at all levels reduces not only jobs but also middle-class spending power and the resulting revenues which such consumers produce. If the core of Republican politics is the defeat of Obama, maybe any progress in the job development arena just thwarts that agenda.
If the Republicans are serious about job creation, why are they strangling the very public entities able to create them? In the meantime nobody dares touch Defense Department budgets, because to do so would, in fact, strike a serious blow at America’s employment picture. It must be very painful to look in two opposite directions at the same time.