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Virginia’s economy is particularly vulnerable to harm in a government shutdown.
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
On most occasions when late-night events render an editorial moot, the morning news is served up with some chagrin. But if dawn breaks today with details of a last-minute deal averting a government shutdown, we will toast the tidings with an extra cup of coffee.
Alas, as of press time, Congress remained at an impasse over a temporary spending bill with the modest goal of maintaining government operations for a few weeks.
Fears that the Blue Ridge Parkway would be gated during the peak fall tourist season were soothed by an announcement that the road would remain open, but amenities shuttered.
Yet more severe hazards to Virginia’s economy are apparent if one looks past the trees to Northern Virginia. Stephen Fuller, director of George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis, told The Washington Post the region surrounding the nation’s capital could lose $200 million a day, with 700,000 federal government and private contractor employees experiencing financial hardship. Washington, D.C., and its suburbs have already felt the brunt of $1 trillion in automatic sequestration cuts, Fuller noted, and a fifth of the job losses from those budget reductions occurred in the capital, Maryland and Virginia, including reductions at military bases around the state.
It’s little wonder that calls for a solution have been bipartisan. Gov. Bob McDonnell has joined both of the commonwealth’s Democratic U.S. senators in expressions of distress. Gubernatorial candidates Ken Cuccinelli and Terry McAuliffe, who agree on little else, concur that a shutdown would be ill-advised. Virtually all members of Congress have declared themselves to be opposed to shuttering the government. And yet, here we are.
The last shutdown occurred 17 years ago, lasting three weeks. The economy at the time was flourishing, and the nation bounced back. Now, with a slackening financial outlook, economists warn that a recession is likely if the shutdown lasts two months. Others warn it will come earlier if the congressional brawl continues, causing the country to default on its existing obligations later this month. Virginians will be among the first, and hardest, hit by the havoc.
Much ink has been spilt on how the country reached this point. Gerrymandering discourages compromise by lawmakers ensconced in safe seats. Cable talk shows enable mischief-makers and shun good government bores. None of that changes the here and now. We may wish a pox on all our elected officials in Washington, but we are depending on them to do their jobs and cease with emailed press releases garbed in extravagant purples.
The votes to avoid a shutdown exist. There are still enough members of Congress acquainted with the concept of give-and-take to over-rule the feckless partisan pranksters.
Whether they like it or not, all of them were elected to govern. A vote to keep government running properly should be an easy one. Those who find it too difficult should consider another line of work.
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