It’s certainly not good news that Oklahoma could lose as many as 16,000 jobs because of pending federal budget cuts, but it’s hypocritical of local Republicans to constantly use the national deficit as a fear-mongering political tool and then whine about an action that actually downsizes government.
The main whiner emerging from the political fray appears to be U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who has been warning about the impact of the pending defense cuts that begin in January, according to a media report.
Earlier this month, Inhofe issued a scathing press release criticizing President Barack Obama for deficit spending. According to Inhofe:
President Obama has spent the past four years running up $5 trillion in deficit spending. Instead of reigning in his federal spending priorities that promote his social agenda, he wants to raise taxes. Americans have repeatedly rejected this liberal tax and spend ideology because they know it is not what is best for our country.
But now that efforts to reduce the deficit are hitting home in Inhofe’s home state, it’s a different story altogether.
In a speech prepared for the Senate floor Wednesday, Inhofe had this to say:
So, the options President Obama and the Democrats are giving this nation with this radical approach is fewer jobs on one hand, or fewer jobs on the other hand. We need more jobs – not fewer jobs and we must keep our national security strong. We need a permanent fix now, or at least a temporary fix that removes sequestration from the current political environment.
A report issued by the aerospace industry this week shows that Oklahoma could lose 16,000 jobs in defense-related cuts because of $2 trillion in budget cuts over 10 years agreed to by Obama and Congress about a year ago, according to NewsOK.com. Nationally, approximately 2 million jobs could be lost because of the cuts.
Losing 16,000 jobs will be an economic blow for Oklahoma, but Republicans can’t have it both ways. If they want to “right-size” government, to use the words of Gov. Mary Fallin, then that means people will lose jobs and their income will be pulled from the economy. I don’t remember hearing Fallin and Inhofe expressing concern when Oklahoma teachers were losing their jobs because of recent state budget cuts.
I do remember Fallin saying this about the federal deficit when she was still serving in the U.S. House of Representatives:
… we cannot keep printing and borrowing money and calling it ‘stimulus.’ I think most Oklahomans understand that we aren’t saving or creating jobs when we do this, we are burying our children under a mountain of debt.
That sound bite goes over well in conservative Oklahoma until people start losing their jobs and the state economy slumps.
Here’s the basic point: Cutting government at any level will take money out of the economy. That doesn’t mean government spending should never be cut necessarily, but there will always be a ripple effect when it happens. Just look at the failure of the austerity movement in Europe recently as outlined by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.
It’s too late now, but the nation needed more stimulus spending after the 2008 downturn to create more jobs and put more money into the economy. Obviously, Fallin and Inhofe disagree with this idea. The pending job cuts, then, are at least partially the result of their political philosophy.
Inhofe, of course, argues the defense cuts are going to hurt the country’s military capability, an audacious claim for many reasons, but he undoubtedly also knows how reliant the state remains on federal money. There’s nothing wrong with some home-state favoritism if you can cut through the hypocrisy.