Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan want to cut domestic spending in order to increase military spending. Regardless of whatever else may be true - that is, regardless of whether you think more military spending is otherwise a good idea, or how you feel about the public services that would be axed by greater domestic cuts - their plans to cut domestic spending in order to increase military spending would cost hundreds of thousands of American jobs.
How many jobs? A plausible estimate is that their plans to cut domestic spending in order to increase military spending would cost at least 530,000 jobs.
What does 530,000 jobs mean in the context of the U.S. economy? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently about 12.8 million unemployed out of a labor force of about 155 million, for a measured unemployment rate of 8.3%. If an additional 500,000 people were employed today, there would be 12.3 million unemployed and the unemployment rate would be 8%.
By comparison, in September 2011, economist Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics estimated that if two stimulus measures were allowed to expire the end of 2011 - the 2% employee payroll tax holiday and the emergency unemployment insurance program - that would cost 750,000 jobs in 2012. As you may recall, there was a huge fight about whether those two stimulus measures should be allowed to expire. The job loss from replacing military cuts with domestic cuts is roughly of the same order of magnitude. If it was worth fighting about saving those 750,000 jobs by extending the stimulus, then it's worth fighting about saving 530,000 jobs by not replacing military cuts with domestic cuts.
[This letter in support of the Mulvaney-Frank amendment was organized by the Project On Government Oversight. The PDF is here:]
July 18, 2012
An Open Letter to Congress in Support of Reining in Runaway Spending by the Pentagon
Dear Members of the House of Representatives,
We, the undersigned organizations, strongly urge you to support the bipartisan amendment to freeze profligate Pentagon spending at Fiscal Year 2012 levels. Offered by Representatives Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) and Barney Frank (D-MA), this proposed amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2013 is a common-sense step towards reining in the runaway Pentagon budget.
Though our groups have advocated for deeper cuts, we welcome the Mulvaney-Frank amendment to keep base military spending at the FY 2012 level of $518 billion. It is a modest $1.1 billion reduction of the currently proposed spending in the House bill—which inexplicably provides for $3.1 billion more than requested by the military. Keeping spending at current levels will still be higher than the Pentagon’s requested amount, but will at least halt the unnecessary escalation currently proposed and is the same level that nearly 300 members recently supported in the “megabus.” The amendment excludes spending on military personnel, the Defense Health Program, and the overseas contingency operations from the freeze. It allows the commanding officers to make strategic spending decisions.
The Mulvaney-Frank amendment represents a compromise that both Republicans and Democrats can agree on.
In fact, the House has already agreed to greater reductions to the Pentagon budget. Just last year, Congress passed the Budget Control Act to enforce discretionary spending caps.
This week, a series of showdowns is expected in the House over the Pentagon budget, when House Members vote on amendments to the Defense Appropriations Bill to cut the overall level of military spending, end or limit the war in Afghanistan, and draw down troops permanently stationed in Europe.
What happens in these votes will have a big influence on the expected negotiations over replacing the impending "sequester" automatic cuts of the Budget Control Act with a package of revenue increases and spending cuts. If you want cuts in military spending to be on the table, now is the time to speak up.
Until now, the bigfoot military contractors and their most stalwart allies in Congress have fought with great success to keep real cuts in military spending away from the table. What has mostly happened until now is that most of the previously projected increases in spending have been cut, so that under the President's plan military spending would rise roughly with inflation. It's an important start, certainly, to stop the previously projected increase, but it's not a real cut from past spending levels. If the automatic cuts were to go through, that would cause a real cut in military spending, although military spending would still be above what it was during the Cold War. But the conventional wisdom is that the automatic cuts won't happen; at the end of the day, they will be replaced by a package of revenue increases and spending cuts.
The question is what is going to be in that package.
Until now, the GOP leadership position has been that cuts in military spending are off the table.
Highlights on Military Spending from the House debate on the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act (May 10, 2012)
[compiled by Women's Action for New Directions from the Congressional Record.]
A key reason that it's relatively easy to scaremonger about predictions regarding Social Security's finances decades in the future is that the language often used to talk about Social Security's finances isn't immediately comparable to anything else that most people can relate to. A number that isn't comparable to other numbers you know is a meaningless number. How big a difference is seven trillion dollars? It sounds like a huge number. But in a context devoid of comparable numbers, it's a meaningless number.
Responding to the 2012 Social Security Trustees report, Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities put the Trustees' projections about the future finances of the Social Security system in the context of the current debate about tax policy:
The revenue loss over the next 75 years from making [the tax cuts enacted under President Bush] permanent would be about two times the entire Social Security shortfall over that period. Indeed, the revenue loss just from extending the tax cuts for people making over $250,000 -- the top 2 percent of Americans -- would itself be nearly as large as the entire Social Security shortfall over the 75-year period. Members of Congress cannot simultaneously claim that the tax cuts are affordable while the Social Security shortfall constitutes a dire fiscal threat.
On Wednesday night, the Senate adopted by voice vote an amendment introduced by Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley calling on President Obama to speed up U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan. This was a watershed event towards ending the war. The previous high water mark of Senators calling for expedited withdrawal was 27; the previous high water mark on a vote was 18. The vote is a green light from the Senate to the White House for a faster military withdrawal that would save many American and Afghan lives and (at least) many tens of billions of taxpayer dollars.
Because it was a voice vote, there was no roll call. But, if you want to know who especially to thank, 21 Senators sponsored Merkley's amendment:
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR); Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT); Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM); Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY); Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH); Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT); Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK); Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM); Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA); Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD); Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND); Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL); Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY); Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA); Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT); Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV); Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) ; Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV); Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY); Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
The Senate vote - which saw John McCain standing alone in vocal opposition - is more evidence that on key issues of war and military spending, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, John McCain, Lindsay Graham and Buck McKeon haven't been speaking for Republicans generally.
Press Release: Just Foreign Policy Responds to Super Committee "Failure": “We Now Have a Historic Opportunity to Cut Military Spending”
Just Foreign Policy issued a press release earlier today in response to the Congressional "Super" Committee's failure to come to an agreement to reduce government spending by $1.2 trillion over the next ten years. You may read the press release here.
Lee-Campbell Bipartisan Letter to Super Committee on Military Spending:
As the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, or the ‘Supercommittee’, seeks out savings and works to end wasteful spending throughout the federal budget, it is critical that all federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, are subject to the same level of scrutiny and consideration. Significant savings can be realized without compromising our national security.
One of the main drivers of our deficit is military spending and it must be on the table for the committee to consider as they seek to reduce our deficit.
Please join us in calling for the Supercommittee to consider savings opportunities throughout our defense spending.
Please note that the letter specifically rejects any cuts that would compromise the security of American troops in the field, as well as any cuts in services and increases in fees for our veterans and military retirees.
If you are interested in signing on or have any questions about the letter, please contact Teddy Miller in Congresswoman Lee’s office; or Christopher Bognanno in Rep. Campbell’s office.
Barbara Lee John Campbell
Member of Congress Member of Congress
Barney Frank Ron Paul
Member of Congress Member of Congress
Gwen Moore Rush Holt
Member of Congress Member of Congress
October __, 2011
Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction Chairman Mark Prater
Senator Patty Murray (Co-Chair)
Senator Max Baucus
Senator John Kerry
Senator Jon Kyl
Senator Pat Toomey
Senator Rob Portman
Representative Jeb Hersarling (Co-Chair)
Representative James Clyburn
For the first time in a decade, significant cuts in projected military spending are on the table. If the "Super Congress" doesn't reach a deal on $1.2 trillion in debt reduction over the next ten years by Thanksgiving, $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts will be triggered, half of which must come from the military; and if the Super Congress does reach a deal, the prospects are good that cuts in projected military spending will be a significant part of the story (you can add your voice for cuts in projected military spending here.)
Obviously, however, the prospect of significant military cuts has well-heeled opponents. The military-industrial-Congressional-lobbyist-think tank-corporate media complex is not just going to roll over and play dead. In the next three months, we can expect a steady stream of pro-military spending propaganda. Expect to hear a lot about China, Iran, North Korea, and "global terrorism" as the beneficiaries of the military-industrial complex try to justify why we must continue to spend much more on the military than we did while opposing the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
But another argument against cuts to projected military spending is sure to rear its ugly head: we shouldn't cut military spending, because that would cost American jobs.
In the current political context, this "jobs" argument is 100% nonsense. Here's why.
The (first-order) Keynesian economics story for government spending to boost employment has three basic elements:
1. The economy is not always at full employment. Sometimes, there are a significant number of people who are "involuntarily unemployed" - they would like to work for the prevailing wage but cannot find a job.