By Amy Lazenby || Today I find myself in the unlikely position of agreeing with Tea Party darling Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC). In a piece by James Rosen for McClatchy Newspapers, Mulvaney discusses his position on defense spending cuts – and he makes sense. I have previously made my position clear on the need to cut defense spending here: Congress must cut military spending, and the U.S. must stop nation building, because America can’t afford either.
Mulvaney is one of the 11 Republican and 11 Democratic lawmakers who sent a letter last month to President Barack Obama and congressional leaders asking that Defense Department spending be put on the table in the upcoming debt reduction debates.
“We believe that substantial defense savings can be achieved over the long term without compromising national security, through strategic reductions in the Pentagon’s budget,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.
Mulvaney, who champions small government and fiscal conservatism, said it was intellectually dishonest for his party to protect the Pentagon while slashing the budgets of other large federal agencies.
“It undermines Republicans’ credibility on spending issues if we’re not willing to also look at the defense budget for possible savings,” he sad. “It’s hard to go home and say that we want to cut everything but not cut a penny on defense. People don’t believe that. More and more Republicans are willing to talk about this openly now.”
In addition to those who want to keep the Pentagon’s budget for national security reasons, an issue I addressed here, there are those who are afraid to cut military spending because of the the jobs it supposedly creates. Defense contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers operate in virtually every state, and legislators are concerned that angry constituents will blame them for job cuts in tough economic times if military spending is reduced.
But studies have indicated that Pentagon funding of weapons systems has diminishing returns when it comes to job creation. In fact, a 2009 University of Massachusetts study on the economics of federal spending found that more jobs are created from each federal dollar spent on education, health care, and clean energy compared to the number of jobs created from each federal dollar spent on defense.
Additionally, according to a report last year by the Project on Government Oversight, a nonpartisan independent watchdog group that champions government reform, total federal money to the five largest defense contractors – Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon – increased by 10 percent from 2006 to 2011. But their combined number of employees dropped by 3 percent during the same time period.
So all that military spending doesn’t appear to worth it for job creation after all…
To be sure, Mulvaney would not support spending on education, health care, or clean energy in the name of government job creation – I would – but at least he’s not being a hypocrite when it comes to military spending to create jobs.
“It is a problem for Republicans who think that defense spending creates jobs but other government spending doesn’t create jobs,” Mulvaney said. “That opens us up to charges of hypocrisy, and rightly so.”