Leon Panetta becomes Defense Secretary and suddenly he forgets his experience as a professor and environmentalist: military spending costs jobs compared to other ways of spending the money. Still, Panetta pressures Congress to slash other spending that actually creates jobs rather than trimming a bloated war budget that's strangling our economy.
Yesterday, Panetta defended the Pentagon from the Congressional deficit committee tasked with identifying at least $1.5 trillion in cuts before Christmas. As we've detailed, members of this committee are already on the war profiteers' take, with Sens. Patty Murray and Rob Portman being favorites of military giants like Boeing and Northrop Grumman, for instance.
As Panetta lectures the chorus, we're seizing the mantle of responsibility and nuance with our latest video. If Panetta won't be honest with Congress, we will.
The disconnect is typical of the way Washington does business: scare tactics, deceptive accounting and ultimately an redistribution of wealth upward toward deep pocketed special interests and away from those hardest hit by the jobs crisis.
It's part and parcel of the military spending bubble, where defense contractors bundle money and talking points for politicians and bureaucrats who, in exchange, protect the blank check for their patron defense contractors. They cook up scary sounding statics around vague (and focus group approved) memes, when in actuality "military preparedness" is not something that can ever be bought and "averting a hollowed-out force" is Pentagon jargon for the classic college student cry of "Mom -- need money please."
This racket pays a nice dividend for multimillionaire CEOs of Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, but it's killing chances for the unemployed and underemployed among us to find quality jobs in constructive and productive industries.
These politicians and lobbyists can't grease the machine much longer. Anti-war protesters enhanced and amplified the war costs message during protests this week. And every day Panetta defends nation building abroad, the Occupy Wall Street movement and the demand for nation building here at home swells in numbers across the nation.
According to the Political Economy Research Institute's (PERI) 2009 study, when you compare Pentagon spending to alternative or domestic programs like education, infrastructure -- you name it almost -- every $1 billion spent for military purposes costs us 3,222 jobs at minimum.
It's not a matter of isolationism either like Panetta and his defense contractors like to say when they question America's strength abroad. They belie the honest truth that ideology has no place in the conversation. Responsibility is about prioritizing and, in this case, whether veterans are entitled to a decent salary and standard of living after their service, or whether we're going to continue to fatten the top 1% in the mahogany board rooms of cash-flush military contractors.
It's about making choices that put people back to work.
That means telling the Pentagon they can't fly troops around like Wonder Woman and telling teenagers there will be Pell Grants available for their college education.
That's the tip of the iceberg. Every day, we're exposing more of Panetta's and the Pentagon's spin. With your help, we're building WarCosts.com into the repository and hub of activism, insight and analysis.
Or as Gen. George Marshall of the famed post World War II Marshal Plan said: "Military power wins battles, but spiritual power wins wars." Americans hit hardest by the jobs crisis are fighting their own battles here at home, and we're standing with them.
It's time for Washington D.C. to get on the right side of the line in the sand.