Virginia officials weren't whining
Gov. Bob McDonnell, Sens. Mark Warner and Jim Webb and Reps. Randy Forbes and Glenn Nye all seem a bit like whiny children in my Local Blog Network colleague Peter Galuszka's take on their protest of military cuts yesterday.
The officials attacked Defense Secretary Robert Gates's intention to shut down the U.S. Joint Forces Command -- a center that employs more than 6,000 and spends more than $700 million annually. But Galuszka said they went too far.
"Virginia has been more than spoiled with defense toys and jobs since 9/11," wrote Galuszka.
He's right, of course, that Virginia holds a special, privileged status with its proximity to the U.S. money chest. Federal spending has trickled over the Potomac River, turning northern Virginia into a land flowing with milk and honey.
That's reasserted by a Gallup poll released last week, which ranks Virginia as the state with third-highest percentage of government employees. Only the District and Alaska exceed our 27 percent government workforce.
And as unemployment has risen around the nation, it's continued to hover around 5 and 6 percent in Virginia's northern reaches.
Perhaps "fighting and screaming" would be a more fitting description if McDonnell, Warner and the rest were grousing about closing the Marine Corps base in Quantico, or the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in McLean -- although I'd still argue that's a stretch.
But we're talking about Norfolk.
Down Interstate 95, Virginia's a different animal. Unemployment goes up, and that's true for the area around the doomed command center. Unemployment in Norfolk sits at 9.8 percent, slightly higher than the national average and considerably higher than the statewide 7.1 percent. And while the national and statewide rates have remained fairly steady in the past year, Norfolk's has risen by 0.8 percentage points.
Thousands of layoffs in the area could send cracks through the local economy that might just equal tremors up north.
In addition, elected officials -- and especially fiscally conservative Republicans -- face charges of hypocrisy when they decry government spending but welcome federal dollars to their districts. But the announced defense cuts could illustrate to conservatives the very thing they fear: that domestic spending will use up dollars that should instead be spent on core government functions.
What did Virginia officials exhibit yesterday? I say it was reasonable angst, not dissatisfied griping.
Paige Winfield Cunningham is an investigative reporter and managing editor at Old Dominion Watchdog . The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.
Paige Winfield Cunningham
| August 10, 2010; 6:00 PM ET
Categories: Fairfax County, HotTopic, Local blog network, Prince William County, Tysons Corner, Va. Politics, Virginia, economy
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