Jun
22
2012

NYT Discovers the Other Side of Spending Cuts

It's been said (by me!) that the big spending cuts set to hit the federal budget next year–so-called "sequestration"–are not created equal, at least in the eyes of the corporate media.

The cuts, as designed, hit the military budget and non-military spending in roughly equal measure. The political calculation was that Republicans would object to the military cuts while Democrats would object to cuts in social spending.

But in the corporate media, those non-military cuts hardly ever get any attention–perhaps because there are not powerful lobbyists and Cabinet officials complaining loudly about how the safety of the country is at risk based on returning the military budget back to 2007 levels (back when the country was, apparently, virtually defenseless).

So it was heartening to see Jennifer Steinhauer's piece in the New York Times (6/22/12), "Pentagon Gets Attention, but Planned Spending Cuts Range Far and Wide." She writes:

It is no secret here that come January, barring Congressional action, huge spending cuts will hit the Pentagon. Congressional Republicans, President Obama's secretary of defense and military contractors have taken pains to denounce the planned reductions, which were scheduled as part of the resolution to the debt-ceiling crisis of last year.

But other government programs are facing equally large cuts, though they have received a scintilla of the attention and outrage that the planned Pentagon cuts have attracted.


And she tells readers that there are people trying to draw awareness to this issue:

"There is political pain and substantive pain" in the cuts to nonmilitary spending, said Richard Kogan, a senior fellow at Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning research group, who noted that roughly a quarter of those cuts would affect Americans at or below the poverty line.

So good for the New York Times for bringing this to light.

Turn to the Washington Post (6/21/12), though, and you'll see a more typical story:

Study Says Pentagon Budget Cuts Would Destroy 1 Million Jobs

Reporter Lori Montgomery writes up a new study from the National Association of Manufacturers, which she says is the latest in "a growing heap of studies" that warn of the catastrophe that awaits if the Pentagon cuts go through as expected.

The pain will hit "not just big defense contractors such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin," Montgomery explains, who goes on to note: "Increasingly panicky industry representatives are lobbying Congress to block the cuts."

But a more critical analysis might point out, among other things, that military spending is not an especially efficient job creator. That was part of the lesson of a recent study by Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier of the University of Massachusetts. As they wrote in the Nation (5/28/12):

Members of today's military-industrial complex–the constellation of forces, including Democratic and Republican politicians, weapons manufacturers, lobbyists and the Pentagon leadership, whose influence President Eisenhower warned against in 1961–claim that significant reductions in the military budget would decimate U.S. defenses and inflict major damage to the economy. In fact, these claims are demonstrably false.

As the chart accompanying the piece shows, there are far more efficient ways for the government to spend money to create jobs:

If you want to read that kind of journalism, you pick up the Nation. The Washington Post, which is the hometown paper for an array of military contractors, lobbyists and their politician friends, is telling a far different story.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.