Sequestration Could Cost NC Thousands of Jobs

| July 26, 2012

It is estimated there are 30,000 civilian employees at Fort Bragg, Camp LeJeune, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station and the Coast Guard Air Station. These jobs are not only vital to those employees but also essential to our state’s economy. Unless something happens before December 31, we stand to lose as many as 20,000 of those jobs.

During the 2011 debt ceiling crisis, when America came dangerously close to defaulting on its financial obligations, a “poison pill” provision was passed by Congress, promising that increases in our country’s debt ceiling would automatically trigger spending cuts if Congress failed to otherwise fix our budget and debt problems. These automatic cuts are known as sequestration, the action of making a general cut in government spending. The agreement calls for 1.2 trillion dollars in cuts and, while they come from all government sectors, 500 billion dollars from defense spending and stand to affect North Carolina dramatically. Payroll is the largest portion of government spending so the fastest way to cut budgets is by eliminating civilian employees.

It will come as no surprise that Congress has been unable to reach agreement. Recent headlines reveal the partisan, contentious and unproductive stagnation in Washington. One house, controlled by one party, passes legislation they know will not be approved by the other house, controlled by the other party. The gamesmanship would almost be humorous if the stakes weren’t so high and consequences so dramatic.

We encourage honest debate and examination of government size and spending; neither are we defending or condemning America’s defense budget, although it must be noted that America is unequalled in defense appropriations, amounting to more than the next twenty countries combined. And despite what some might have you believe, defense spending has actually increased, not been cut.

The states that will bear the brunt of these defense cuts will be Florida, Virginia, New Hampshire and North Carolina, most of which are political battleground states.

Congress is set to adjourn next week so elected representatives can campaign for election. It will reconvene in mid-November, for a “lame duck” session following the elections and has until December 31 to find a solution or face another dramatic showdown, called a fiscal “cliff,” that automatically triggers tax increases and sequestration.

All 13 Congressional seats in our state are up for election in November and you can bet candidates will be asking for your vote. Right now you have some leverage with them and you can play a big part by raising your voice and asking for action. They need to hear that we care little about their political games or who might be right or wrong. We also implore them to stop these frequent fire drills.

When our Congress returns in November we encourage them to avoid dramatic and painful extremes. Compromise is the order of the day and statesmen are needed. North Carolina’s precarious economy can ill afford to lose thousands of jobs at one time. Let us put aside party and partisan interests and do what is best.

Category: Economy, NC Stateline, SPIN Blog

Comments (3)

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  1. TomC says:

    From North Carolina Senator Ellie Kinnaird, in response to the column on Sequestration:

    Dear Mr. Campbell:
    I enjoyed your column on the severe impact of sequestration on North
    Carolina’s economy. However, there is a conundrum in the continuation of economic dependence on
    out-moded military arsenals.
    The biggest discretionary spending in the U.S. today is military spending, dwarfing all other non-mandatory entitlement expenditures – foreign aid, education, the environment. This is due to not only the
    two wars, but also the extent of military spending spread throughout all aspects of the economy. The biggest waste is that we are continuing to build a 20th century military arsenal while war has
    changed drastically in the 21st century. Today’s wars are fought with roadside bombs – i.e.d.s – and drones. The second half of 21st century warfare will be cyber warfare, in fact many observers feel
    that has already begun and neither of which use the weaponry we are paying for and stockpiling.
    Against this changed world and warfare, the United States continues the manufacture and maintenance of outdated, useless armaments: huge battleships, costly fleets of airplanes and even nuclear weapons. But
    what makes it impossible to dismantle this obsolete weaponry is the embodiment of President Eisenhower’s warning about the military-industrial complex. Every Congressional district has either a military base or a weapons manufacturing plant that is dependent on continued production for its economy. North Carolina is, as you pointed out, the beneficiary of this outdated direction. Here is the conundrum: paying for a cold-war era arsenal to keep the economy stable. Meanwhile, the deficits grow unabated.
    Then there is always the problem of, since we have all this equipment, we should use it throughout the world. Right now, the U.S. has over 800 military bases, and the newly developed drone capability, that can be delivered virtually anywhere in the world. We are engaged in several undeclared wars in small African and middle-eastern countries This can lead, and many say has, led to American imperialism.
    I don’t know if anyone is working to solve this problem that with Congressional representatives like Paul Ryan asking for more expenditures and the drumbeats to still be the strongest nation that everyone fears (except for those setting the ied’s in our soldiers’ paths.)
    I would like to hear what you think is a solution to this cross-roads, which, as you say, could hurt or help our state.
    Sincerely,
    Ellie Kinnaird
    P.S. I would like to recommend an excellent book – the best I have read in years: “American Nations: a History of the eleven RivalRegional Cultures of North America” by Colin Woodard.