House Armed Services Committee Hearing Misleading on Doomsday Projections

Hearing on military spending, jobs, and the economy leaves out one side of the story, say experts.

Washington DC – On the day the Super Committee tried again to wrestle its way to a debt deal, the House Armed Services Committee looked ahead to what happens if they fail.

The committee’s hearing on “The Economic Effects of Defense Sequestration” featured three economists, testifying to national, regional and global effects, who found only agreement among themselves and among the members of the committee majority on the purported job loss and economic hardship that would result from military spending cuts.

But there’s another side to this message of economic doomsday, one that the panel’s organizers made sure the committee didn’t hear.

Such as: Military spending isn’t a very good job creator, compared to other forms of federal spending. A 2009 study by economists at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst found that a billion dollars spent on military production created about 11,000 jobs, compared to about 17,000 from clean energy, 19,000 from health care, and 29,000 from education.

Such as: The cuts that would come from the sequestration would bring us back to what we were spending, in real terms, in 2007. Was anybody saying that we were at “doomsday” then?

Such as: The Pentagon’s claim that sequestration would raise the unemployment by 1% is inflated and misleading. These claims were underscored by a new study released by the Aerospace Industries Association yesterday, whose author spoke at the hearing today.

Available to comment are:

Robert Pollin, Professsor of Economics, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst and co-author, “The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: An Updated Analysis.”
“There is a great deal at stake as policymakers and voters establish public policy spending priorities. By addressing social needs in the areas of clean energy, health care and education, we would create many more job opportunities overall.”
(413) 577-0819; pollin@econs.umass.edu

Heidi Garrett-Peltier, Assistant Research Professor, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts, Amherst and co-author of “The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: An Updated Analysis.”
“My calculations show that the arms industry’s claims about increased unemployment are vastly exaggerated. In fact, if defense dollars were cut and equivalent spending occurred elsewhere, there would be no increase in unemployment at all. We’d lose more jobs by cutting most other social programs than we would by cutting defense.”
(413) 577-0818; hpeltier@econs.umass.edu

William Hartung, Senior Analyst, Center for International Policy.
“Sparing the defense budget while cutting other parts of the discretionary budget is a net job killer.”
(212) 431-5808; 917-923-3202 (cell); Hartung@cioponline.org

Miriam Pemberton, Research Fellow, Institute for Policy Studies.
“This committee needs to get back to the task of figuring out how much we need to spend to keep our country safe, not pushing unlimited military spending as a jobs program.”
(202) 787-5214; Miriam@ips-dc.org