Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ramesh Ponnuru on Republicans and defense cuts

I've written a couple of times about the hypocrisy of Republicans who worry that defense spending cuts will hurt the economy. That's Krugmanesque Keynesianism under the rubric of "national security," and it deserves to be labeled as such.

Today, conservative writer Ramesh Ponnuru does the labeling, though he comes to a slightly different conclusion than I do:
Needless to say, on the theory that the Republicans are advancing, the federal budget can never be cut. The U.S. Conference of Mayors will be able to say that cuts in social spending will devastate the economy of our cities with at least as much justice as defense-heavy areas can complain about cuts to the military. Rural areas can say the same thing about farm subsidies. 
Yet the purpose of the defense budget shouldn’t be to subsidize particular people or areas. We don’t buy tanks and train soldiers to keep beauty salons in business. The Republicans resisting big defense cuts generally think that they would jeopardize our national security. That’s a debatable proposition. So debate it. What Republicans should not do is make an economic argument for defense spending that is both untrue and inconsistent with everything else they say about spending and the economy.
I'm not sure I agree with "untrue," but otherwise: Yup.

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