Manufactured Hysteria Over Defense Spending Cuts

There is a ticking time bomb that is going to go off on January 2, 2013, and it’s going to destroy the military and the economy. That’s if you believe the narrative being pushed by the military-industrial complex, and their enablers in the Congress and the media. They would have you believe that cutting less than 10% of the largest military budget in the world would lead to calamity. But, the “sequestered” budget cuts only mean less profit for the defense contractors in the military-industrial complex.

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), if the sequester budget cuts take affect it would mean a $492 billion over nine years to the Department of Defense budget. Of course facts have never gotten in the way of hyperbole in Washington, D.C. Rep. Buck McKeon, the chairman of the House Armed Services committee, told Danger Room that sequester is just “wonky Beltway term for cutting the defense budget by at least $600 billion over the next decade.” This is the same McKeon that seems to think that the government can’t create jobs, unless it’s jobs for the defense industry.

Even if the sequester budget cuts take effect, it would only dent the massive growth in defense spending that has occurred over the last decade. As the Center for Public Integrity reported, the cuts would still leave the Department of Defense with a larger budget than it had in 2006.

Conservative commentators have been struggling to find coherent arguments against cutting the defense budget. Neoconservative hawk Bill Kristol, Editor of the Weekly Standard, somehow believes that cutting the defense budget would only cause “tiny” savings while at the same time “decimate” the military. Fellow neoconservative Max Boot, Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote that it would be “impossible” to cut the defense budget because he thinks we might end up in a “clash with China.”

As Politico reported, the defense industry has been “engaged in all-hands on deck lobbying assault” in response to the possibility of the sequestered budget cuts. This lobbying effort has been spearheaded by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), a trade organization that according to its web site “represents the nation’s leading manufacturers and suppliers of civil, military, and business aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aircraft systems, space systems, aircraft engines, missiles, materiel and related components, equipment, services and information technology.”

Millions of dollars are being used to wage a campaign that AIA told Politico was “second to none,” that includes rallies held in Congressional districts, paying for studies that reinforce industry claims, and pushing their narrative on social media. Since 1998 the AIA has spent about $500,000 per year on lobbying Congress. In 2011, the AIA spent $2.1 million on lobbying, and so far this year the AIA has spent $620,000. Before 2010, an AIA had never contributed to political campaigns through a political action committee. Since 2010 the AIA PAC has raised more than $56,000 and contributed more than $13,000 to federal campaigns.

George Mason University professor Stephen Fuller was hired by the AIA to produce a study examining the effects of cuts to the defense budget. Predictably the study found that the results of the budget cuts would be 1 million jobs lost either directly or indirectly. The study also concluded that it would raise the unemployment rate by 0.6% and decrease GDP by 25%. It’s worth noting that a study by University of Massachusetts at Amherst found that spending on “domestic spending priorities will create substantially more jobs within the US economy than would the same…spent on the military.”

The defense industry is not only lobbying members of congress and paying for studies to reinforce their arguments, they are also waging a public relations campaign that includes using fear tactics against their own employees. Businessweek reports that defense companies, lead by Lockheed Martin, have threatened to send out thousands of mailers telling workers that they will face layoffs if the budget cuts are implemented. Experts told Businessweek that the mailers are just about complying with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.

The mailers are less about complying with the law, and more about politics. The notices would be mailed to employees just days before the November presidential election. Byron Callan, a defense analyst with Capital Alpha Partners, also told Businessweek that if the budget cuts are implemented that it won’t mean that defense companies will face abrupt loss in revenue that would cause immediate massive layoffs. “That’s more a scare tactic than something that aligns with the underlying reality of how sequestration works,” Callan told Businessweek.

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One response to “Manufactured Hysteria Over Defense Spending Cuts

  1. Look out: Fuller is due to update his report, to be released tomorrow. Lockheed’s CEO will testify in front of the HASC Wednesday. All of this ahead of defense appropriations hitting the HOuse floor on Wednesday-Friday.

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