Don't Buy the Spin: How Cutting the Pentagon's Budget Could Boost the Economy
The Nation, July 30, 2012
"The matter assumed increased urgency in November after the Congressional supercommittee failed to agree on a deficit-reduction plan. This failure set in motion an agenda for automatic cuts—or “sequestration” of funds—from military and nonmilitary budgets beginning in January 2013. According to the sequestration scenario, absent the adoption of a large-scale deficit-cutting plan, military and nonmilitary spending would face $55 billion per year in automatic cuts over a decade, relative to previously established spending levels. If Congress and the White House devise a way to exempt the Pentagon from the automatic cuts—as seems increasingly likely—the cuts will instead be taken from healthcare, education, social spending, infrastructure and the environment.
Of course, framing the deficit issue in terms of military versus social spending cuts ignores other options, such as raising taxes on the wealthy. It also erroneously assumes that reducing the federal deficit is necessary now, before the economy has settled onto a sustainable recovery path out of the recession. Even more fundamental, today’s debate largely skirts the question of what the military budget needs to be after Iraq and Afghanistan, and fails to grapple honestly with the impact that major military spending reductions would have on the economy, especially in terms of job opportunities and technology.
Members of today’s military-industrial complex—the constellation of forces, including Democratic and Republican politicians, weapons manufacturers, lobbyists and the Pentagon leadership, whose influence President Eisenhower warned against in 1961—claim that significant reductions in the military budget would decimate US defenses and inflict major damage to the economy. In fact, these claims are demonstrably false."