Ohio Military Braces for Supercommittee Cuts

Monday, 14 Nov 2011 05:12 AM

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Ohio armed forces leaders and contractors say a 12-member supercommittee failure to slash federal deficits by as much as $1.5 trillion could have drastic effects on the state’s military bases and contractors, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
If the bipartisan committee doesn’t have a plan in place by Nov. 23, it would trigger automatic $500 billion in across-the-board cuts to the Defense Department. The reductions would be in addition to $350 billion in cuts that came in August through the Budget Control Act that established the supercommittee.
Either way, Ohio’s active-duty military force could be drastically cut. If the supercommittee fails to reach an agreement or if Congress doesn’t pass the committee’s proposal, Ohio’s active-duty military force of 8,261 could be cut by about 17 percent, or 1,377. The state’s defense contractors could lose about 6,250 of their 25,000 jobs under mandatory cuts.
Three defense accounting or supply centers are located in Columbus, as is military contractor Battelle, a research and development company that does about $700 million in defense business and national-security-related work at Energy Department labs.
The Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is the largest single-site employer in Ohio, and could face steep cuts whether or not the supercommittee proposals are passed.
“The larger the federal installation, the more it has to lose,” Michael Gessel, vice president of federal government programs for the Dayton Development Coalition told the Dayton Daily News.
The states’s economy received $6.25 billion in defense-procurement spending in 2009 alone, said the Ohio Department of Development.
That is a key reason that the possibility of across-the-board cuts alarms Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who is part of the supercommittee.
“We’ve just got to be sure that we don’t do too much too fast that would hollow out our military and put us in a position of vulnerability,” he said. “I’ve always said defense needs to be on the table. It cannot be immune from the kind of cuts that we have to make. But let’s do it in a smart way.”

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