Amid the fears and questions which arose as the sequestration went into effect on Friday, Gov. Bob McDonnell “tasked” a reassembled Commission on Military Installations and Defense Activities to advise McDonnell on how best to respond to the indiscriminate budgetary cuts set to take place across the remainder of the fiscal year.
According to McDonnell, “Its purpose [i.e., the Commission] is to examine in detail the likely impact on Virginia of the planned defense cuts, and future [Base Realignment and Closure] actions, and to recommend to me the best courses of action to advocate for favorable policies in Washington…”
Stated more clearly, the commission is charged in part to create plans for preventing the realignment or closure of federal military and national security installations in Virginia.
Virginia stands in both a uniquely cushioned economic position as well as uniquely precarious economic position from which to face the federal sequestration. On the one hand, Virginia has taken measures in the not-too-distant past to soften the blow of budgetary cuts such as millions of dollars placed into a Federal Action Contingency Trust Fund. On the other hand, military and government employees make up a relatively large percentage of Virginia’s workforce, meaning that if the military and federal agencies start laying employees off, Virginia will take a disproportionate economic hit (not to mention the psychological toll that these layoffs will take on those affected).
At this point in the sequestration process, few if any tangible effects from the sequestration will be felt. As the weeks continue without an end to this budgetary axe, the effects of the sequestration may be felt across the domestic and military spheres (as was the intention of the sequestration).
But the most absurd part of this whole sequestration process is that the American people, on the whole, have watched this political game of chicken with relative disinterest and unalarm until now. While my point is not to blame the American people or any one group for the sequestration, my hope is that the sequestration will be the spur that finally shakes the American people out of their political complacency.
If more Americans do not become involved in the political process and finally demand an end to this budgetary insanity, it will continue to repeat itself year after year. Our congressional ‘leaders’ have already shown multiple times that they are either incapable or unwilling to do it themselves.