Will looming military cuts drive the GOP to compromise? (U.S. Army photo)
Will looming military cuts drive the GOP to compromise? (U.S. Army photo)

Southern states would be hit uniquely hard by sequester's military budget cuts

In an effort to force a compromise with congressional Republicans over $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts due to kick in this week, the White House has released a report detailing the state-by-state impact of the cuts.

The Obama administration report looks at the impact of the cuts, known as the sequester, on everything from school budgets to air traffic controllers and child vaccinations.

While some Republicans in the South may not mourn particular cuts to social programs, one consequence of the sequester's budget slashing may give them pause: the loss of nearly $3 billion for the military in Southern states.

According to the White House figures, the South would be disproportionately affected by cuts to the nation's military, which is a key employer and economic force in many Southern states. Among the military operations affected by the impending cuts:

* Civilian job furloughs: The White House estimates that 731,000 civilian military employees in the U.S. will be forced to take unpaid leave due to the cuts, 310,000 of them -- or more than 40 percent -- in 13 Southern states.* The Pentagon says the most likely plan would be to require one day of unpaid leave a week, which in Southern states alone would result in about $1.6 billion in reduced income among the region's civilian employees.

* Cuts to the Army: States will lose $2.1 billion due to cuts in the U.S. Army budget; half of Army spending cuts will fall on Southern states. The four states that will suffer the biggest cuts to Army operations -- Georgia and Texas ($233 million each), Virginia ($146 million) and North Carolina ($136 million) -- will account for more than a third of the total Army budget reductions.

* Cuts to the Air Force: Of the estimated $295 million states will lose from cuts to the U.S. Air Force, more than a third -- $109 million -- will come from Southern states.

* Cuts to the Navy: Although the White House report doesn't include exact numbers for budget and job losses for naval operations in Southern states, it does note projects where funding may be in jeopardy in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

The numbers highlight the South's ongoing reliance on defense spending, a trend which started during World War II as Southern states aimed to attract war production and military dollars to jumpstart economic recovery after the Great Depression. The relationship has continued, as Southern lawmakers continue to fight for military bases, weapons contracts and other defense spending in the hopes of generating jobs and economic development.

Will the prospect of devastating defense cuts be enough to bring Southern Republicans to compromise with President Obama over the budget? Stay tuned.

* Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

 

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Will looming military cuts drive the GOP to compromise? (U.S. Army photo)
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