Republicans’ jobs plan: The war machine

By Cate Long
July 19, 2012

Although Republicans have been insisting on cuts to federal spending, they are fighting to keep the defense budget off limits. They agreed to make cuts to military spending as part of last year’s sequester agreement, but there is a full-court press in progress to derail the cuts as the date on which they are set to take effect nears. This well organized campaign involves members of Congress, governors, mayors and military contractors. Here is what is involved, according to the House Armed Services Committee:

If sequestration takes effect in January, the defense budget would be cut an additional $55 billion per year from the levels established in Budget Control Act. That would mean an additional $492 billion in cuts on top of the $487 billion already being implemented [over ten years]. In total, over $1 trillion would be cut over the next ten years with disastrous consequences for soldiers, veterans, national security, and the economy.

This amounts to a reduction of around 14 percent to the defense budget. Even with the cuts, the U.S. will remain the biggest military spender in the world by far. In its pitch to put off the cuts, the House Armed Services Committee invoked the threat of job losses:

Cuts to spending for the acquisition of military equipment alone would lead to the loss of over 1,000,000 private sector jobs. These cuts could push unemployment back up to 9%. Cuts to active-duty and DOD civilian personnel would amount to over 350,000 jobs lost.

The impact will be borne disproportionately by some states. The ten states that will feel the largest pain as a percentage of the state economy are Virginia, Connecticut, Alabama, Arizona, Maryland, Alaska, Hawaii, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Missouri.

Virginia stands to take the biggest hit to its economy, because almost 10 percent of the state’s GDP comes from military procurement revenues, according to the U.S. Census (page 10). Virginia’s Republican governor and the House majority leader are leading the charge on Capitol Hill to block the cuts:

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is hitting Capitol Hill on Wednesday to talk about sequestration … McDonnell, oft-mentioned as a potential running mate for Mitt Romney, will be flanked by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and other congressional Republicans from the Old Dominion to talk about the impact that the automatic spending cuts will wreak on their home state.

The state of Virginia would be among the hardest hit if the spending cuts – which are split between defense and domestic programs — went into effect on Jan. 2, 2013. According to a study released Tuesday, the state could sustain more than 207,500 job losses next year due to sequestration, due to its heavy military presence and significant numbers of federal workers.

It’s more than hypocritical for Republican lawmakers to argue against shrinking our massive military budget because of job losses. They never express concern about job losses as they seek to cut Medicare, Medicaid or education funding. These federal programs also support millions of U.S. jobs. Employment losses are always difficult, but Republicans need to get their story straight and have better justification for defense of the military.

The House voted 414-2 on Wednesday to have the president and the Office of Management and Budget detail exactly where cuts will occur. Once the cuts are spelled out, expect a big fight among members of Congress to protect jobs in their districts. Democrats, at least, will not be philosophically inconsistent for doing so.

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