By Peter Galuszka
A couple of days ago I went to my mailbox next to the brightly-bloomed crepe myrtles and there was a four-color brochure from my Congressman, Randy Forbes, whose district stretches from the military-saturated cities of South Hampton Roads to the southern part of Chesterfield County where I live.
Randy Forbes is a Republican, which puts him in a strange contradiction. To be true to his party, he must go along with the anti-government bureaucracy and spending rhetoric mastered by Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader whose district abuts his.
Forbes also must represent the military. True to form, his brochure was titled “Fighting Against Devastating Defense Cuts.” Here are some of his details:
- Some 207,571 Virginia jobs will be lost if “looming defense sequestration cuts are not averted.”
- Another 29,000 workers that could be affected are employed by the Norfolk Naval Shipyard and at Huntington Ingalls, a major ship building and repair firm.
- About 4,800 people work in Hampton Roads at the computer simulation sector related to defense.
- Forbes claims some credit for the 11,796 jobs at Ft. Lee near Petersburg which won big in the last round of BRAC assessments to become a key logistics center for the Army and other services.
- If sequestration occurs, Forbes says it would make it hard for the military to fight and win two major campaigns at the same time.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’ll be accused as being a soft-headed liberal for making these points, and I may well be. I’m not anti-defense although I believe U.S. power can be right and wrong. The Iraq and Vietnam Wars, for instance, were wrong. Opposing terrorism and being able to stand down the Soviet Union were necessary tasks. The U.S. had no choice but to participate in World War II and may have been too late in doing so. Korea was a tossup.
My point is that Virginia is still a huge government state. It has been this way ever since the United States emerged as a world power more than a century ago. It is hypocritical for conservatives to play it both ways and refuse to acknowledge reality. Even worse are those squirrelly Libertarian-types who talk out of both sides of their mouths. You know who I mean.
You will hear a lot on this blog that’s neo-Calvinist — about how we’ll reach “Boomergeddon” (as imagined as nuclear blast on a book cover) if we don’t start cutting spending now. What’s not mentioned of course is that tightening may be necessary but so is raising taxes and other sources of revenue. You don’t do this by giving tax breaks to corporations and the ultra rich. In Virginia, for instance, roads go lacking because state politicians are too fearful of raising the tax gasoline tax which hasn’t been adjusted for inflation in about two decades.
Economists worry that we’re heading towards a new recession in 2013 if the current flavor-of-the-times thinking about government cuts continues and things like sequestration occur. It won’t matter if Romney or Obama is president.
Once again, you can’t cut your way out of a downturn. As far as impacts to my congressional district, I have to admit that Randy Forbes has a point. It will affect the well being of the state as well as the nation.