This media spin on the “drop” in defense spending is bogus. And it reveals how most “reporters” don’t look beyond the press release they are handed.
Except for the irrepressible Brad Plumer, who wrote this in the WonkBlog:
Was this big plunge in defense spending unusual? Yes and no. To a certain extent, it’s part of a pattern: Defense spending often rises in the third quarter of a year and drops in the fourth quarter.
There’s a reason for this pattern. The fiscal year ends in September, and government agencies typically try to spend all the money Congress allotted them for that year by then — otherwise, they fear, they’ll get a smaller budget next time around.
and, from the great Larry Korb:
“In the Pentagon, you have to use it or lose it by the end of the fiscal year in September,” said Lawrence Korb, a former assistant secretary of defense now at the Center for American Progress, in a recent interview.
So, this will be spun as a reason to avoid the sequester and to make sure the economy doesn’t head back into severe recession…but it is really just a matter of accounting and a the pre-fiscal year spending spree that happens annually.
The annual fluctuation was sharper than usual, but don’t expect any real shift away from this post-WWII addiction to military Keynesianism. The Military-Industrial Complex is one of the most effective wealth reallocation systems ever devised, and this blip is just that…a blip.
Photo by Beverly & Pack released under a Creative Commons license.