Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) is an outspoken opponent of the Obama administration’s stimulus plan and toed the House Republican line that government spending doesn’t lead to job growth. But McKeon’s ideological commitment to a conservative fiscal policy has a major caveat — military spending. At a hearing last week, McKeon said:
We don’t spend money on defense to create jobs. But defense cuts are certainly a path to job loss, especially among our high-skilled workforces. There is no private sector alternative to compensate for the government’s investment. [...] While cuts to the military might reduce federal spending, they harm national security and they definitely don’t lead to job growth.
But McKeon’s apparent endorsement of government spending leading to job growth isn’t a position he typically takes. The “Issues” section of his congressional website states:
Congressional Democrats and the Administration continue to insist that we can spend our way out of this recession and create jobs, but the numbers just don’t add up. [...] Rather than spending money we don’t have for government programs, a job-killing government-run health care system, and a national energy tax, it’s time for policies that empower small businesses, restore consumer confidence, and create private-sector jobs.
The Associated Press asked McKeon about the apparent contradiction in his defense of military spending and opposition to federal spending to create jobs. McKeon spokesperson Claude Chafin told them:
[The statements] were “not inconsistent” becaues the defense industry is a unique recipient of federal dollars.
It actually turns out that McKeon is a unique recipient of defense industry dollars. Indeed, the House Armed Services Committee chairman’s sudden support of government led job creation when the defense budget is under attack should come as no great surprise. According to OpenSecrets.org, McKeon is the top Congressional recipient of defense industry campaign contributions, collecting over $250,000 from the industry in the 2011-2012 election cycle and over $1 million over the course of his career.