The colossal failure of Congress to show even modest leadership on reducing federal spending — and borrowing — is now threatening Washington state’s economy.
The threat comes from the automatic across-the-board cuts of $1.2 billion in federal domestic and defense spending that will be triggered Jan. 2 if Congress can’t reach a budget compromise this fall.
The impact on Washington state will be more harsh than most states because it is home to defense contractors. The Tacoma News Tribune reports the Defense Department makes up a disproportionate share of the cuts — $500 billion, at least $55 billion of which would go into effect immediately even though the across-the-board cuts will be phased in over 10 years.
Washington state, home to Boeing factories and other defense-related industries, could lose at least 41,000 jobs, according to a July study by Stephen Fuller of George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis.
The heavy cuts also would impact federally funded domestic programs such as courts, farm subsidies, national park rangers, air traffic controllers and public housing projects, according to the News Tribune. Fuller’s report, funded by the Aerospace Industries Association, estimated the country would lose 2 million jobs under sequestration as federal layoffs mount. The national economy would also take a hit.
When the so-called — and very poorly named — supercommittee was brought together to make surgical budget cuts, few thought (wishful thinking) they wouldn’t make some progress.
Instead, the hand-picked Republicans and Democrats (including Sen. Patty Murray) could not bring themselves to move beyond political ideology and compromise. It was clearly a two-way failure.
Well, now we are about four months away from a fiasco.
Action is needed. Across-the-board cuts are about the worst way to run a government. It doesn’t allow for people to use their brains and establish priorities. Instead, it assumes that each program is of equal value and all are cut exactly the same amount.
Congress can’t allow the across-the-board cuts to be triggered. Strong leadership is needed.
Washington state and the Pacific Northwest will suffer dramatically. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Sen. Maria Cantwell, Murray and the rest of the state’s congressional delegation need to step up and do what’s best for the nation.