Friday, January 11, 2013

Virginia Will Get Hammered as Pentagon Moves to Freeze Hires and Slash Spending

The irony here in Virginia is that no state is more dependent on federal spending and will suffer more than Virginia if the Congressional Republicans continue to refuse to strike a rational budget deal to avoid sequestration.  Yet it is Republican members of Congress like Scott Rigell, Randy Forbes and Bob Wittman who are among those apparently only too happy to push the nation into sequestration.  One has to wonder how happy their delusional supporters are wen they find themselves placed on furloughs or suddenly unemployed as military spending is slashed in Hampton Roads and across the country.   Northern Virginia will be hard hit as well.   Frankly, there is some sweet irony that some of these GOP voters may soon be about to reap what they have sown.  Unfortunately, many others will be impacted by the extremism of those sent to Congress from this region and other parts of Virginia thanks to GOP gerrymandering.  The Washington Post looks at the Pentagon's plans to slash spending.  Here are highlights:

The Pentagon will impose a freeze on hiring civilians, slash operating costs on military bases and take other immediate steps to trim spending in preparation for the possibility that Congress will fail to reach a deal to avert billions of dollars in additional cuts, defense officials said Thursday.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said he ordered the cutbacks as a precautionary measure because he has grown pessimistic that Congress and the White House will reach agreement. If they do not, the Pentagon would be subject to $52 billion in cuts this fiscal year — about 10 percent of its non-war-fighting budget.

He said the armed forces would exempt combat operations in Afghanistan — which are largely funded by a separate war budget — as well as pay and benefits for the troops. To compensate, however, cuts would have to bite deeper for other programs, such as ship maintenance, military training programs and the purchase of new weapons.

The Pentagon had largely resisted making plans for the “fiscal cliff.” Defense officials had simply stated that such an outcome would be financially disastrous for the military and wanted to avoid the impression that it could be absorbed in stride.

Panetta said he previously assumed that the potential cutbacks were “so nuts that it wouldn’t happen,” but that now he frets they could become a reality. “Frankly, my fear in talking to members of Congress is that this issue may now be in a very difficult place.”

A memo released Thursday by the Pentagon instructs the armed forces and defense agencies to curtail spending on training, travel, office expenses and conferences. It also gives officials the authority to fire temporary workers.

The hiring freeze alone could have a significant impact on the economy in the Washington region. The Defense Department employs about 800,000 civilians worldwide, but many are concentrated locally.
The Pentagon has proposed keeping up to 10,000 U.S. troops to help train Afghan forces and conduct counterterrorism operations. But White House officials have pressed for fewer. On Tuesday, Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communication, told reporters that one option would be to pull out all U.S. troops after next year — a suggestion that induced heartburn among many senior military leaders.

Of course, by some estimates, simply pulling out of the fool's errand in Afghanistan would save enough money more than cover the  the sequestration cuts otherwise facing the Pentagon in the coming year.  And it would stop the needless waste of young American lives in a war that will never be won.

As for Hampton Roads, the region has for too long embraced backwardness and relied on military spending to support the region.  Now, it will find itself hard put to attract modern, progressive business as the Virginia GOP continues to hold the state under anti-equality and Medieval social policies.

No comments: