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Friday, Aug 19, 2022

Aiming at Wrong Target

Why should “sequestration” matter to Angelenos? It matters because of the Armageddon level of budget cuts that will hit our military and defense communities at a time when we cannot afford to lose another single job.

Sequestration means that the Pentagon must cut $492 billion in military spending over the next nine years, beginning in January, unless Congress reaches an agreement to reduce the mounting federal deficit by more than $1 trillion. This automatic axe was included in the Budget Control Act enacted in 2011 as a result of the failure of the congressional super committee to confront the deficit.

This matters to the greater L.A. region because we are home to a vibrant military community from the Los Angeles Air Force Base (the epicenter of the nation’s aerospace industry) to Naval Base Ventura County and the Marine base at Twentynine Palms. Additionally, our defense industry – Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and the list goes on – represents high-paying jobs that have a positive ripple effect throughout our region. As an example, the C-17 Globemaster III, built in Long Beach, is the only large military transport aircraft still manufactured in the United States.

Red flag

The threat of sequestration should not only raise a red flag in Los Angeles County but in Sacramento as well. The Southwest Defense Alliance commissioned a recent study on the economic impact of national defense spending in California and the Southwestern United States. The results are astounding. During the study period of 2005 through 2009, an average of 1 million jobs per year were tied to national defense spending in California. That’s more jobs than in the entire Silicon Valley. Over the period, $570 billion in increased economic output was generated plus $12 billion in cumulative state taxes.

According to Robert Stevens, chief executive of aerospace giant Lockheed Martin: “The very prospect of sequestration is already having a chilling effect on the industry. We’re not gonna hire, we’re not gonna make speculative investments, we’re not gonna invest in incremental training because the uncertainty associated with $53 billion of reductions in the first fiscal quarter of next year is a huge disruption to our business.”

We have seen how the closure or the realignment of our military installations, as the result of a process known as BRAC (base realignment and closure), can negatively impact communities. Sequestration will make BRAC look like a walk in the park. Not only are there near incalculable negative economic implications to sequestration, but the defense of our state and nation is at stake as well.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in testimony before the U.S. Senate that if implemented, sequestration would cause the United States to “go from being unquestionably powerful everywhere to being less visibly globally and presenting less of an overmatch to our adversaries and that would translate into a different calculus and potentially, therefore, increase the likelihood of conflict.”

We need to immediately urge our congressional representatives and California’s two U.S. senators to push for a bipartisan solution to sequestration. America cannot afford to lose another single job nor can we afford to lose our superpower status.

Maj. Gen. Dennis Kenneally is executive director of the Southwest Defense Alliance, a non-profit, nonpartisan organization focused on preserving and enhancing critical defense missions and assets in the Southwestern United States. Billie Greer is president of the Southern California Leadership Council, a nonpartisan, non-profit public-policy partnership.


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