Despite Hefty Propaganda Campaign, Maintaining the War Industry Actually Costs America Jobs

By  Ida Hartmann at Alternet

“Every $1 billion spent on war costs us at least 3,200 jobs,” reads an ad by Brave New Foundation (BNF) in today’s print edition of Politico. Part of a new consciousness raising campaign called WarCosts, the ad was launched to put Second to None, an association of military contractors, on the defense vis a vis their propaganda and distortion of facts. Particularly, Second to None is staging a “march to the hill” Tuesday, September 13, to drum up support to protect massive military spending.

The WarCosts campaign is designed to expose Second to None’s white-washing of history, to call out their deceptive spin on jobs, and to make clear to Congress that war industry profits are playing a major role in killing the economy, when more productive jobs is what we need to help fix the economy.

Second to None is trying to play on fears with their propaganda. A recent AlterNet article by Nick Turse points out that the organization's website says “some extreme voices are calling for massive cuts to our national security and aerospace spending that would devastate our military, weaken our economy, and force us to cede global leadership in a time of increasing threats." Of course statement is patently absurd; in truth, the U.S. Defense budget is virtually as large as all the rest of the world's defense expenses combined. 

Furthermore, The Associated Press reports that an independent panel investigating U.S. wartime spending estimates that “$60 billion in U.S. funds has been lost to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade through lax oversight of contractors, poor planning and payoffs to warlords and insurgents, as BNF explains on their blog.

According to BNF, at least 193,000 jobs could have been created for that $60 billion in waste, helping to put a dent in high levels of unemployment in the country. BNF cites a 2009 study by Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), which showed that military spending, wasted or not, creates fewer jobs, both directly and indirectly, than every other kind of spending reviewed. Disarming the mythical war-sparks-the-economy argument: war spending makes only a few large corporations rich on the expense of taxpayers.

The debt limit deal passed last month creates an unexpected opportunity to cut military spending. It includes $1.2 trillion in mandatory cuts over the next decade if Congress can’t agree on a broader deficit reduction plan by December. Most of that amount targets the Pentagon and Medicare providers. If Congress fails to reach a different agreement, the Pentagon and other defense-related programs will face about $350 billion in guaranteed cuts, plus up to $600 billion in additional reductions.

The "bi-partisan" Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction has been given a deadline of Nov. 23, 2011 to agree on a deficit reduction plan. With rising public opposition to two unpopular wars, Brave New Foundation is optimistic that this is a historic opportunity to cut the run-away military budget. "If the members of the Committee are serious about doing what’s best for this country, they’ll focus on changes to the budget that have a chance of getting people back to work and Pentagon will be on the top of their list," argues Brave New Foundation.

The debt ceiling deal has set off alarms among major defense contractors with lobbyists shouting about a supposed “sword of Damocles” hanging over our national security. To put this into perspective, BNF points out that “the U.S. is the biggest spender in the world on militarism, having spent roughly $700 billion in 2010, more than 6 times the amount spent by the next country on the list, China.” With defense spending having doubled over the past decade, the proposed cuts do not nearly reverse that.

But if the the cuts were to go through, they will put a dent in some of the war industry corporations’ hefty profits and make it far more difficult to deploy some of the industry's favorite new weapons on Capitol Hill -- often known as boondoggles.   Brave New Foundation reports that members of the newly-announced deficit committee have together taken around $1 million in campaign and PAC contributions from military contractors since 2007.

As Second to None, the small army of lobbyists, and their pals march tomorrow, BNF's Politico ad reminds us that the war industry is "second to none" in costing us jobs.

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