Free Markets, Free People


Lawrence Korb: A million job losses through defense cuts "irrelevant"

Lawrence Korb, who obviously sees defense as the budget cutting device that can save other spending programs, opens his POLITICO piece with this:

Defense is not now — nor was it ever intended to be — a jobs program.

So when an Aerospace Industries Association study — supported, unfortunately, by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) — attempts to warn Congress and the American people that cutting projected defense spending by as much as $1 trillion over the next decade, which might happen if sequestration takes effect, could cost 1 million jobs, the appropriate response is that this is irrelevant.

Actually it’s not irrelevant in the least. Not when you have an administration trying to spend more money on “infrastructure jobs” and touting jobs it has “saved or created”.   Not when you have a president who is claiming the national priority is jobs, jobs, jobs.

It isn’t irrelevant at all.

I agree with his essential point and made it myself yesterday.  Defense isn’t a “jobs program”.  And no one is arguing it is.  That doesn’t make the impact of cuts to this particular sector less “relevant”.  Again, a million jobs in the middle of a deep recession means more trouble not less.  So Korb’s cavalier dismissal of that impact as irrelevant is, well, irrelevant.  It’s a false premise.

This isn’t about the jobs, necessarily (although they are important), it is about the future of our national security.   As the Air Force generals I quoted yesterday emphasized the decisions made today will have a profound effect in 20 to 30 years.  If we cut major defense programs now, we suffer their consequences then.  Sure, we’ll see a million jobs go down the drain now.  But the short sightedness of huge cuts now really doesn’t have anything to do with jobs.  It has to do with a badly degraded national defense in the future.

Korb attempts to use this false premise to sell a trillion dollars in cuts to defense programs and then promises vapor jobs in return:

That $1 trillion can be used to lower our federal debt, which Adm. Michael Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called the greatest threat to our national security.

Or it could be used to create at least 2 million new jobs — to replace the 600,000 that could be lost.

Note that Korb claims, with no basis for his claim (after supposedly taking apart the argument that a million jobs will be lost with sequestration cuts) and then blithely hand waves “at least” 2 million new jobs into existence by doing what?

Spending that trillion dollars.  That’s worked so well for us in the past 3 years hasn’t it?

And his desire to “create at least 2 million new jobs” to replace those lost tells you what?

That those lost if the cuts to defense are made aren’t irrelevant at all – are they Mr. Korb?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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8 Responses to Lawrence Korb: A million job losses through defense cuts "irrelevant"

  • Testifying before the Senate Budget Committee today, Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Elmendorf reiterated his initial assessment of President Obama’s $800 billion “stimulus” package — that while it may boost the country’s GDP in the short-term, in the long-term, the effect of such spending is a net negative on GDP growth.

  • I didn’t realize the career I’ve been engaged in for the last 25 years was considered a “non-job”.

  • This is what is immediately seen. But if we have trained ourselves to look beyond immediate to secondary consequences, and beyond those who are directly benefited by a government project to others who are indirectly affected, a different picture presents itself. It is true that a particular group of bridge workers may receive more employment than otherwise. But the bridge has to be paid for out of taxes. For every dollar that is spent on the bridge a dollar will be taken away from taxpayers. If the bridge costs $1,000,000 the taxpayers will lose $1,000, 000. They will have that much taken away from them which they would otherwise have spent on the things they needed most.

    Therefore for every public job created by the bridge project a private job has been destroyed somewhere else.
    http://www.fee.org/library/books/economics-in-one-lesson/#0.1_L5

    It says nothing to the point that the military is not a jobs program. Discussing it as if it were is what is irrelevant.

  • “It is like arguing that defense is entitled to a specific share of the federal budget or gross domestic product.”

    Where was Korb when Obama was touting the number of jobs his health care entitlement program was going to create? Defense, ONE entitlement I can easily find enumerated as a Federal responsibility in the Constitution , as opposed to health care, and cell phones, and free college educations.

  • Guys…

    Korb is a Collectivist hack. Defense jobs are BAD jobs. Why? Because hand-wave, that’s why…!!! It is all about the economics of the deluded…the rationale of the irrational.

    Back to you Erp.

  • Unfortunately, as George Will points out, it’s all standard DC “smoke and mirrors” …
    ‘Congressional failure to approve a supercommittee proposal supposedly will trigger a $1.2 trillion sequester, half from national security budgets. But the trigger will not be pulled until 2013. No Congress can bind another, and any trigger Congress creates Congress can disable. Obama, who may not be president then, hints that he might veto legislation that alters the sequester. But suppose the sequester occurs. Ignore loose talk about “draconian” spending cuts.’

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