Republicans: Government (Defense) Spending Responsible For Thousands Of Jobs


Last week, we reported that Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) had experienced an epiphany about the stimulative effects of government spending…when that spending is on weapons.

Over the weekend, Paul Krugman took a shot at Congressional Republicans who fit the Chambliss profile–i.e. the subset of Republicans who voted against the stimulus but are now coming forward to claim that a (fictional) reduction in defense spending will cost jobs.

Since only three of Capitol Hill’s 219 Republicans–Sens. Arlen Specter (R-PA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Susan Collins (R-ME)–voted for the stimulus bill, it’s possible that many scores of them will ultimately fall afoul of this contradiction.

Until then, though, we’ve poked around a bit, and come up with the names of a few Republicans that have already fallen in to The Chambliss Hypocrisy.Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) and Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) joined their fellow Peach Stater, warning that the demise of particular defense programs (paid for with federal funds) will eliminate jobs.

The administration’s plans to cut the F-22 program “will…cost thousands of jobs at a critical time,” said Price. Back in February, Price took a different view of federal spending, saying the stimulus bill “will not stimulate the economy. There is nothing stimulating about wasting historic amounts of taxpayer money…. I hope that all parties can finally come together to produce solutions that foster real economic growth instead of more reckless government spending.”

Gingrey added that the “decision takes a short-sighted approach to maintaining American air dominance, while at the same time putting thousands of good manufacturing jobs at risk.” When the stimulus bill passed, Gingrey said, “Republicans have a real plan to create twice as many jobs at half the cost of this ‘spenduluous’ [sic] through across the board tax cuts and cuts in government spending.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) said, “the only place [President Obama] wants to cut spending is defense,” which lacks the virtue of accuracy, but he concluded based on this assessment that “these cuts will eliminate thousands of well-paying jobs across America.”

Akin had defense spending on his mind back in February when he said the stimulus bill was like “a financial Hurricane Katrina head[ing] toward our shores.”

“[C]onsider that the Department of Defense has only eleven aircraft carriers in our entire fleet, and they are the greatest single expenditure in our defense budget,” Akin said. “The annual debt service alone on this spending package would pay for about eight such aircraft carriers.”

Maybe if the stimulus bill had spent $789 billion on aircraft carriers, Akin wouldn’t have been so harsh.


Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at