A top foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney told the National Journal that funding for social programs should be cut in order to stave off the looming military spending sequester. While Romney often says that “government doesn’t create jobs,” John Lehman, a special adviser to Romney and co-chair of his campaign’s Defense Working Group, admitted that more government spending will lead to more jobs, but claimed that investing in the military will generate more employment than spending on other domestic priorities:
“If you want to reduce the impact of government cuts on creating jobs, you should be looking more at entitlements” than military spending, John Lehman — an investment banker, a former secretary of the Navy under President Reagan, and a special adviser and co-chair of Romney’s Defense Working Group — said in an interview. […] Defense cuts particularly hurt the economy, Lehman said in an interview, because defense spending creates more jobs and growth per dollar than entitlements, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
“If your objective was to maximize jobs, you’d cut entitlements five times more than defense,” Lehman said, citing the fiscal multiplier and advocating the opposite distribution of spending reductions than agreed under the current package.
Conservatives have been arguing for quite some time that funding for programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security should be cut in order to preserve the Pentagon’s bloated budget. John Bolton, another top Romney adviser, has even said that social programs should be cut in order to increase military spending.
But Lehman is wrong to say that military spending creates more jobs. A study released late last year by the University of Massachusetts, Amherst found that non-military spending can create more jobs than money going to defense programs. Averaged between the three domestic spending priorities of clean energy, health care, and education, those areas create about twice as many jobs per dollar spent as military expenditures, according to the study. Moreover, polling shows that Americans would rather cut the military budget in order to reduce the debt and deficit rather than take funding from public retirement and health programs.
And while the defense industry and its allies in Congress claim that the Budget Control Act’s mandated military spending cuts would create massive job losses and hurt the economy, some industry CEOs are starting to speak out, saying the apocalyptic warnings are overblown.
But at least the Romney campaign is now acknowledging that government spending creates jobs.