Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cutting Defense Spending Could Worsen the Economy

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cutting Defense Spending Could Worsen the Economy

Article excerpt

A weaker America is a stronger America, Presi dent Barack Obama said last week in unveiling his new defense strategy.

Mr. Obama didn't use those words. But that's the effect of his plans to cut more than 100,000 troops from the Army and Marine Corps; reduce the Navy from 300 to 238 ships; cut Air Force strategic bombers by a third, and Air Force fighters by half.

Our military will be "leaner," the president said. "Leaner" is an adjective more appropriately applied to cutting fat, not muscle.

Mr. Obama has reduced spending for defense by $480 billion since he assumed office. The cuts he previewed last week would reduce defense spending over the next ten years by $487 billion more.

The cuts are necessary, the president said, because of our mammoth federal budget deficits. But defense can't be responsible for the $1.5 trillion he's added to the national debt, since he already has cut so much from the defense budget.

The failed $821 billion stimulus cost as much as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Spending for defense is mandated by the Constitution. Providing pork to political cronies is not.

Cutting defense spending this much would make our economic problems worse. In addition to the loss of more than 100,000 military jobs, the cuts would reduce civilian defense jobs by about 200,000, and employment in defense industries by about 500,000, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee estimated.

And if the defense cuts that may be triggered by the failure of the House-Senate "supercommittee" to approve a deficit reduction package also go into effect, job losses could rise to 1.5 million, said Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif. Mr. Obama did not say whether those "sequestration" cuts are figured into the cuts he announced last week.

Unlike the handful of "green" jobs on which Mr. Obama has spent so much, these jobs are necessary and soon may become more so. As we enter 2012, the war clouds are thicker and darker than at any time since 1938. (For you history- challenged liberals, that was the year before World War II began.)

In an editorial last Friday praising Mr. Obama's defense cuts, the New York Times had this cautionary paragraph:

"Still, the United States must be ready to face multiple contingencies. …

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