Monday, February 28, 2011

Military Spending Follow-Up

Yesterday's question for liberals around these parts was why Democrats haven't pushed as hard for spending cuts in national security as they did during the Reagan, GHWB, and early Clinton years. Robert Farley has some ideas, including a suggestion that the distribution of military spending has changed in a way that makes more Democratic districts dependent on such programs. Could be! I'm definitely not familiar with any literature there is on this (beyond knowing that, in fact, military contractors appear to locate jobs strategically in order to build support in Congress).

I'll also point people interested in the topic to Andrew Sprung's typically fascinating reading of Barack Obama's Saturday radio message from this weekend.

Which reminds me that it's always worthwhile to remember that even those of us who pay very close attention to politics and government miss lots of what's being said. I can't remember how many times I've heard someone complain that "Democrats should be saying..." only to launch into something that I've heard coming from more than one Democrat, sometimes even including the President of the United States. So I should add: I see there was at least one relevant amendment proposed during the CR debate a couple of weeks ago, offered by Barbara Lee, that would have cut military spending; it received 6 GOP votes and 70 votes from Democrats, with 114 Democrats opposed.


  1. I'm not sure if this has been suggested in the previous posts, but maybe Democrats have come round to the notion that spending on defense has become a smaller and smaller percentage of the overall budget. The date suggests that between Reagan and the beginning of GWB's tenures defense spending fell to a fairly small percentage of GDP, especially when compared to what it used to be. Here's Krugman on the issue:

    I would like to iterate one of Krugman's point, that just because defense spending is small(er) there still is plenty of waste and review that could still be done (check out this brilliant article in the Boston Globe regarding private contractors hiring ex-generals to coerce their former colleagues to buy into their products: I would argue though that if anybody, Democrat or Republican, was even remotely serious about dealing with cutting government spending and arresting the growth of the deficit they would be looking at health care.

  2. Again, I want to stress the notion of defense spending as stimulus. During the depths of the recession, the only places hiring in my state were defense contractors.

    It's a huge part of the budget, one with lots of executive branch control, and one that's useful to individual members of Congress so that they can say, 'see, despite recession, I was able to bring these precious jobs home. . ."


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Who links to my website?