Opinion: Mindless Slashing

Opinion: Mindless Slashing

Automatic cuts set to kick in January would harm Northern Virginia more than any other region.

While reducing the federal deficit is critical to the nation's economic health in the long run, the knee jerk, slash and burn method based only on cuts that is coming at us like a freight train will do immense damage to the economy nationally. But no place would feel the pain more intensely than Northern Virginia.

Last week, hundreds of technology workers gathered in Arlington, waving stop-sign shaped pickets that said "stop sequestration." Self-serving? Perhaps, but the mindless and catastrophically timed cuts would hurt everyone in Northern Virginia.

"The risk posed by these cuts taking effect is not a gamble that Virginians can take," said U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, who addressed the group along with Gov. Bob McDonnell, U.S. Reps. Jim Moran and Frank Wolf, Northrop Grumman CEO Wes Bush, SAIC CEO John Jumper, Northern Virginia Technology Council Chair Brad Antle, Aerospace Industries Association CEO Marion Blakey and Fairfax Chamber of Commerce CEO Jim Corcoran and others.

"A third of our economy here in Northern Virginia and in the National Capital Region is dependent directly on federal investment and spending, Connolly said, calling for compromise in Congress.

The Budget Control Act of 2011 sets the stage for automatic spending reductions over the next 10 years beginning Jan. 2, 2013 resulting in Pentagon spending cuts of $800 billion, $700 billion in cuts from other agencies with a $200 billion reduction, mostly from Medicare, in mandatory programs. This is according to Steve Fuller and the GMU Center for Regional Analysis.

According to the analysis, Virginia would be second after California in job losses to the states in the next two years, with a potential loss of more than 200,000 jobs (136,191 defense-related jobs lost and 71,380 non-defense jobs).

It's important to note that the vast majority these job losses would be in Northern Virginia, and the looming problem is one reason Fairfax County is asking all departments to prepare for a possible five percent reduction in each of the next two years.

There are hundreds, possibly thousands, of ways to begin to fix the deficit; this is not one.

You can read the George Mason analysis at http://www.aia-aerospace.org/assets/Fuller_II_Final_Report.pdf

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