Friday, February 8, 2013

Senator Warner Fumbles on Sequestration

Senator Mark Warner of Virginia gave a speech this morning to the Northern Virginia Technology Council in which he suggested that the defense industry shared blame (with the legislative and executive branches, presumably) for sequestration.  Here's the key graph:

“We have muffed this thing four times,” Warner said. “We blew it on the debacle, that was an embarrassment to be in Congress, on the debt ceiling. We blew it on the supercommittee. We blew it when they undermined the bipartisan efforts, and candidly, we blew it on New Year’s Eve. And yeah, we ought to get 80, 90, whatever percent of the blame. But you ought to take some of the blame too.
“Because every time there’s been efforts to try to build a broader coalition to say let’s go ahead and take this on, and get out of our individual political foxholes and get out of our individual industry foxholes, most of y’all have said, ‘Well, I don’t want to’ anger ‘this guy or that guy or this chairman or that chairman".

No doubt, Senator Warner accurately describes the efforts of industry lobbyists and influence peddlers; what he does not get right is that those activities are not appreciably different today (or in the past few years) than in the years preceding them.  What changed was the utter incompetence of the leaders on the Hill and in the White House to do what has always been expected of them--and that is reach agreements.

The pain we are now beginning to feel as a result of both the Continuing Resolution and the looming sequester is a surprise to no one in authority in the Department of Defense.  The cancellation of a deployment, the postponement of a nuclear refueling, the detriments to Army readiness--all of it was knowable AND KNOWN months ago, before the election.  Yet time and again, DoD officials spoke in vague generalities about what would happen while assiduously asserting that no sequestration planning was ongoing. What DID happen was that when a major defense contractor made preparations to send required notice to employees that their termination may be in the offing as a result of the sequester, the full weight of the Labor, Justice and Defense Departments came down on that contractor like a ton of bricks for even hinting at the very horrors that the Administration now dramatically grasps to its beating heart in order to win additional tax revenue as the price for any spending restraint.  

No Senator Warner--it may make you feel good to share some portion of the blame for where we are with the defense industry.  Perhaps it would make you feel better to apportion some share of it to the American people whose judgment resulted in the legislative stalemate we now endure.  But the fault is yours--along with your colleagues of both parties and the President.  Your suggestion that it is otherwise is weak.

Bryan McGrath

blog comments powered by Disqus

site stats