Sequestration, jargon for legislatively triggered across-the-board cuts to defense spending, is causing big worries in South Carolina’s military communities.
A state task force that was designed to prepare for a different round of scheduled base reductions, better known as BRAC, have now turned their attention to defense cuts of up to $600 billion that begin January 2, 2013.
That is, unless Congress can come up with an alternative plan.
State Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom chairs the committee, made up of spokespeople from South Carolina’s four larger military communities: Beaufort, Charleston, Columbia and Sumter.
Eckstrom says Congress’s decision to trigger what he calls a “meat axe” approach to cut spending is entirely a political decision, so that will be their approach.
“So our strategy is entirely political,” says Eckstrom. “It consists of going to our own congressional delegation and other members of Congress that some of us have gotten to know through the years to advocate that there’s a better way than just taking a broad, across-the-board approach toward cutting.”
The task force wants to know how South Carolina’s delegation in Congress stands on the $600 billion in automatic cuts.
“We’re really trying to quantify how committed they are to opposing, we want to identify exactly how they feel. And if they are not willing to stand forward nad take a leadership role, we’re of the mind that they’re really not opposed to it, if they are not willing to get out front on this one,” says Eckstrom. “That’s going to be one of the things we’re pushing for–to make them boldly state their position.”
Eckstrom says Senator Lindsey Graham has already taken an active role in fighting the cuts.
The task force has undertaken a new economic impact study. They have been gathering data from every installation and Eckstrom says the report should be complete by the end of August.
Because there is a prohibition on uniformed military personnel being involved in the BRAC process, or in speaking out politically. That is why Eckstrom has enlisted the help of retired high-ranking military leaders in South Carolina to lobby for the bases.
“They know the active-duty folk and they’ve walked in the shoes of these military leaders,” he says.