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Robert Naiman

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Cut the Pentagon Budget, Not Social Security and Veterans' Benefits

Posted: 08/30/2012 3:17 pm

Some people in Washington want to cut Social Security and veterans' benefits, by cutting the cost-of-living adjustment. But there's a better way to cut government debt than cutting Social Security and veterans' benefits: cut the bloated Pentagon budget.

Not only would that protect Social Security and veterans' benefits, it would save 380,000 jobs. And cutting the Pentagon budget would mean less war in the future: the Pentagon wouldn't have the money to occupy other people's countries.

The Economic Policy Institute has estimated that the budget proposed by Mitt Romney's running mate Paul Ryan, chair of the House Budget Committee, would destroy 4.1 million jobs by cutting $404 billion of domestic spending by 2014. But any proposal to cut domestic spending is going to destroy jobs, not just Paul Ryan's proposal.

Some people want to cut Social Security and veterans' benefits by changing the way inflation is measured in calculating the cost of living adjustment. The Congressional Budget Office says the change would "save" the government $145 billion over 10 years by cutting Social Security, veterans' benefits, and federal pensions.

Since cutting Social Security benefits, veterans' benefits, and federal pensions would take money out of the domestic economy, it would destroy jobs. If cutting domestic spending by $404 billion would destroy 4.1 million jobs, then cutting domestic spending by $145 billion would destroy 1.5 million jobs.

A December 2011 paper by Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier showed that domestic spending creates more jobs than military spending. It showed that replacing cuts to domestic spending with cuts to military spending reduces the job losses from those cuts by at least 25.8 percent.

Thus, cutting $145 billion from the Pentagon budget over ten years instead of changing the way inflation is calculated to cut Social Security and veterans' benefits would save about 380,000 jobs.

The Pentagon budget can easily absorb $145 billion in cuts over 10 years. That's no more than a third of what would be cut from the Pentagon budget under the automatic cuts of the Budget Control Act. And the automatic cuts of the Budget Control Act would just take the military budget back to what it was in 2007, under the Bush Administration, when the U.S. was fighting two major land wars.

It's not only on the tax side that Romney-Ryan budget policies favor the 1%, but also on the spending side. The majority of federal discretionary spending is now eaten up by the Pentagon budget. Social Security and veterans' benefits help many. Excessive military spending benefits narrow special interests who have had disproportionate voice in Washington. It's time to have a spending policy that benefits the 99%, and that means cutting the bloated Pentagon budget, not Social Security and veterans' benefits.

 

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