Cuts to the federal payroll become more than an abstract concept

March 8, 2013 

Sequestration, while a foreign term, becomes real up close and personal for the people who depend on Robins Air Force Base for their livelihoods. The announcement by Brig. Gen. Cedric George on Wednesday that the workload at the base would drop by 28 planes is not what 300 people gathered to listen to George wanted to hear. Nor is it what the community wanted to hear.

The 22 furlough days base workers will have to take will also be a blow to the area, both financially and psychologically. Who feels the passion to go out and spend to help drive 70 percent of the economy when, aside from pay freezes, furloughs are added to the mix.

There are other negative impacts to the sequester. The Houston County school system receives money from the Department of Defense, about $2 million, because the base pays no property taxes, but will that money continue to flow or will it be cut partially or completely? Other government workers in the area will also bear part of the brunt of the sequester.

Such conversations are taking place in every community in the nation, and while Americans worry about the debt and deficit, none want the solution to those issues to come from their hide. Now our lawmakers in Washington, D.C. have allowed what they thought was a device to force compromise, to fail. Which means they failed and are now scrambling to place blame. There is plenty of bipartisan blame to go around.

So what of the government workers who are regularly cast as inefficient suckers on the government teat? Yes, those same workers who are the favorite whipping boys for politicians who decided to take a vacation while the sequester rolled into town. According to a Rasmussen survey released late last year, Americans have bought into the stereotype. “Sixty seven percent of American adults believe that private sector workers generally work harder than government employees,” the survey found. “Only 5 percent believe public sector employees are the harder workers.” We wonder how that survey would go over with Robins workers who have been judged some of the most efficient at what they do in the military?

Will our lawmakers be applauded for holding the line on spending or castigated for not finding a solution?

While it’s true this year’s cut is only a minute percentage of the federal budget, it feels like a pretty deep cut if we’re the ones bleeding.

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