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Defense Spending As Stimulus, Part Trois

People always talk about The Washington Post’s Bob Kagan as the smart Kagan child, but even if his brother wasn’t Fred Kagan, this column would still be pretty egregious. It begins with the false premise that President Obama is going to cut defense spending and then proceeds to argue that defense spending is stimulative.

On the stimulus question, he’s not wrong. Defense spending indeed stimulates the economy. It’s just curious how all of these old and wheezing defense platforms of dubious/debatable utility to national security are suddenly presented as important parts of economic recovery — and presented outside the context about what other, perhaps-less-expensive measures might be more stimulative. To be fair, Kagan doesn’t advocate for any particular defense program, but that just makes the argument a bit generic and tacked-on.

But all of this proceeds from the incorrect premise that Obama is going to cut defense spending. In fact, as CQ’s Josh Rogin reported yesterday, Obama’s Office of Management and Budget is capping the ceiling on non-war-related spending at eight percent above the fiscal 2009 budget. It’s possible that Obama will ask the Pentagon to rein in its projections for future defense spending. But those are projections and not actual spending. A simple Google search would have spared us Kagan’s column — presuming, that is, it was written in good faith.

Update: I should have noted that Glenn Greenwald hit this before I did.

Late Update: CQ’s numbers were a bit off the first time around, so Josh Rogin’s story is updated. The ceiling OMB placed on the fiscal 2010 defense budget is still $14 billion higher than the fiscal 2009 one.

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