Conservative think-tank suggests defense spending for stimulus
The American Enterprise Institute's resident fellow Thomas Donnelly is giving President Obama some advice on how to revive the economy – spend on defense. At the AEI's "State of the Union" event a week ago, Donnelly was pitching the idea that the new administration could spend most wisely on stimulus for the nation's industries by investing more in defense contracts.
His talking points, from an e-mail sent to me by AEI:
- Defense investments will create thousands of American jobs across the 50 states, preserve jobs at risk from premature program terminations, promote American exports and create a secure environment for global economic recovery.
- Defense will be key to any stimulus package: The security of worldwide commerce depends upon safe, cheap and uninterrupted flows of goods and service through a variety of “commons” – the seas, air, space and cyberspace – that are protected every day by U.S. military forces.
- The gap in military spending of the past 15 years – more than $150 billion in deferred projects in the 1990s alone – has created a “defense deficit” that has resulted in a wholesale obsolescence in front-line systems: U.S. troops are still fighting with planes, ships and land combat vehicles designed in the late 1970s and purchased during the Reagan buildup.
- There is a strong correlation between defense spending and past recoveries.
- Defense manufacturing is among the most competitive elements in the U.S. manufacturing sector.
- Defense programs more than meet the “shovel ready” threshold set for infrastructure projects in the stimulus package.
It seems doubtful that any money allocated under the banner of "economic stimulus" will find its way into the Defense budget. As incoming Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn has said, the White House is proceeding with the existing budget plan for the Defense Department for 2010 with minor modifications at best, based on the budget plan submitted by the Pentagon during the last administration, and that major changes will be deferred until the Quadrennial Defense Review is completed – and sets out the administration's strategy. But there may be a hint of Donnelly's argument thrown around in conversations about the major programs that the Obama administration needs to act on in the next few weeks and months: Future Combat Systems, the F-22 and the Joint Strike Fighter.
Posted by Sean Gallagher on Jan 20, 2009 at 8:12 AM