Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cutting the costs of War

Obama recently came out with a plan to reduce the DOD budget by about $300 Billion. This would end a number of defense contracts, close military bases in various regions of the world, and help to create a more lean, mean military. No doubt there will be people on both sides of this issue, fighting to preserve and fighting to stop this plan.

Interestingly, Republicans will likely say that such a plan is no good, citing national security and (very ironically) jobs as being the primary victims of these spending cuts. It's worth pointing out that much of this money is in fact slated for paying off defense contracts to private US companies who may very well lay off workers if they don't get that money. What remains to be seen is if they will lay off, and why. The national security argument is an old one, and everyone should be familiar with the argument.

In some ways, the Republicans have a point. Cutting the military contracts directly impacts American workers who benefit from those engineering and construction jobs. They work for some of the largest, most prosperous private businesses in the world, and their livelihood would undoubtedly be in question if these cuts were put in place.

But Republicans have a few issues to work out of their argument. They have been claiming for years and years that government spending does not create jobs. Now, they seem poised to protect a huge portion of government spending in the name of preserving American jobs.

More importantly, though, is that the money cut from the defense budget could be funneled into other projects (say, infrastructure, education, or social programs). With that added funding, the government could contract out more work, which would create jobs. We could rebuild the roads and bridges that are continuing to crumble. We could put more funding towards education and technology. We could do more research. All of these initiatives create jobs and I'm willing to bet they would create more jobs than what were lost by cutting the funding from the defense budget.

Even if the money is simply cut out of the budget, though, it could be a good thing. After all, isn't $300 Billion a good chunk of change. It may not be everything that needs to be cut, but it's pretty close. I know that Republicans in particular have said that we can't beat around the bush, that we have to just take these massive cuts all at once, but I don't think that's the right course. I think if we were to do that, there would be a shock to system that could set us back a long way. Instead, cuts like the ones proposed by Obama are a good place to start. $300 Billion is quite a bit of money, isn't it?

No comments: