Less than two days before $85 billion in cuts come from Congress, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said indiscriminate cuts are unthinkable at a time of war, but protections are in place for the Commonwealth to weather the storm.
McDonnell, who retired from the military as a lieutenant colonel, also has a daughter who served in Iraq. In an interview Wednesday, the Governor said cuts to defense painful for Virginia, and personal for himself.
"When we have kids from Virginia in Afghanistan in a time of war, and 50 percent of those cuts are the U.S. military, that's just the wrong policy," McDonnell said. "This idea was meant to be a hammer, not policy we live by. It doesn't respect people in uniform."
According to an extensive analysis published by George Mason University, Virginia could lose an estimated 207,571 jobs over the next ten years. The job losses primarily stem from billions of dollars that would no longer flow from the federal government to Virginia military bases or defense contractors.
The number of jobs in the Commonwealth potentially axed ranks second only to California, which is projected to lose 225,464 jobs.
McDonnell said as he has traveled across Virginia, the emotions that stand out most are uncertainty and frustration from business owners.
"If you're related to a government or defense contracting business, you don't know if you're going have a job," McDonnell said. "You don't know how many hours you're going to work, starting this week."
But for many, the sequester is simply another crisis in Congress, and Americans across the country are becoming wary of endless emergencies from Washington. McDonnell rejected the notion that this time, people can tolerate inaction.
"For America to keep its greatness, it has to have a government that's reliable, predictable, and trustworthy," McDonnell said. "If you have a government that can't get a budget passed, and can't create certainty, for financial markets, and for employers, then Virginians' ability to pursue the American Dream will be significantly impaired."
The Governor pointed to nearly $800 million in the Commonwealth's "rainy day fund," as a way to finance programs that could see painful cuts from sequestration. Virginia public school districts could lose nearly $14 million for teachers and staff serving children with disabilities.
Virginia Commonwealth University could also see research funding slashed $21 million, resulting in up to 200 positions cut.
Democrats in Washington agree the cuts will be a self-inflicted wound on the economy, but they cannot come to an agreement with Republicans on what spending to cut, and what role taxes should play in reducing the national debt.
Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia said yesterday the sequester cuts are, "Stupid on steroids... No rational group of folks would allow this to happen, yet we're three days from allowing it."
Congressional leaders will meet with President Obama at the White House Friday, the day the cuts come into effect. Expectations are low to produce results, 18 months after the idea of the sequester passed Congress.
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