Sequester cuts could affect Troy workforcePublished 11:00pm Friday, March 1, 2013
The day that many elected officials said would never happen, has come and passed. Across-the-board mandatory federal spending cuts, knows as Sequestration, went in to full effect as of 11:59 p.m. Friday.
The cuts are split evenly by dollar amounts between the defense and non-defense categories. Some major programs like Social Security, Medicaid, and federal pay, including military pay and pensions, and veterans’ benefits are exempt. Medicare spending will be reduced by 2 percent per year versus the planned levels.
Two military contractors, Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin, are located in Troy and reports say that cutbacks are possible for all defense subsidiaries.
Paul Jackson, communications director for Sikorsky, said that is too early to tell what, if any, repercussions the local branch will face.
“We don’t really know what is going to happen yet,” said Jackson. “We might have some cutbacks or whatnot, but we want know for sure until all the small pieces fall in to place.”
Over the 2013–2021 period, the sequester would reduce planned spending by $1.0 trillion with interest savings of approximately $170 billion, for a total of nearly $1.2 trillion in debt reduction or avoidance. The blunt nature of the cuts has been criticized; with some favoring more tailored cuts and others arguing for postponement while the economy improves.
Scott Beaulier, the Executive Director of Troy University’s Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy, said that the cuts may not affect many common citizens that much.
“I believe that is a little overblown,” said Beaulier. “If you really look at it, it is $85 billion which is a drop in the bucket. I think that the whole sequester drama is demonstrating how dysfunctional Washington really is. There are a lot of other ways to cut that very small amount if they were truly serious.”
Beaulier said that defense makes up a small amount of the budget, and that much more of the budget consists of funds for Medicare, Medicaid and welfare programs.
The cuts have drawn fire from many Republican congressmen, including Rep. Martha Roby and Sen. Jeff Sessions.
At a Capitol Hill news conference, Roby blasted President Obama for using the threat of military sequestration cuts to campaign for another tax increase.
“We can’t tax our way out of the sequester, and we can’t tax our way out of debt,” Rep. Roby said. “There’s a mom down near Fort Rucker, Alabama right now wondering why Washington can’t fix its spending problem without threatening her ability to put food on the table. And it is unconscionable that President Obama is using military families as pawns in his crusade for higher taxes.”
Shelby was unavailable for comment on Friday. In a phone interview on Friday, an aide from Sen. Shelby’s office said that the senator is firmly against the sequester, and questions why the president has not submitted a plan other than the sequestration.