During the last budget debate, and throughout all of the effort moving the budget toward its present form, a recurring theme from Republicans surfaced, supported in great measure by the Utah’s congressional delegation. The mantra was: “the nation is broke,” followed closely by “cut government spending to avoid placing the burden on the backs of our future generations.”
As budget talks failed due to partisan impasses at all levels, the US budget sequestration became an uncomfortable reality for the nation. Closed programs and fiscal uncertainty has been defined largely by the lack of any cooperation in Washington, DC which brought the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office to formally conclude that since sequestration, the nation’s gross domestic product was expected to be an anemic 0.7 percent going into the remaining three quarters of 2014.
On Wednesday, April 30, 2014 the government issued the nation’s GDP figures at an almost non-existant 0.1 percent growth. This is important, because deals in the nation’s capitol protected a considerable amount of defense budget spending this year. To place a household analogy on the matter, add the defense budgets of China, Britain, France, Japan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Germany, India and Brazil (in that order of spending amounts per nation); the US has still outspent those neighbors’ combined.
All of this is relevant to Congressman Chris Stewart (Republican – Salt Lake, St. George, Eastern Utah), whose military background sets up his own priority emphasis for the state of Utah. Stewart commented on the current effects of budget sequestration on America’s fighter wing readiness while he attended his party’s state convention on Saturday:
Budget sequestration is divided into two parts, defense and non-defense spending and the local impact seems to have been lessened by the current congress. The Pentagon’s 2015 budget was created with sequestration in mind. Ann Stefanek, an Air Force spokesperson said that that branch sought to protect their top 3 “investment programs,” which included 34 purchase orders for the F-35 Lightning II, some of which are destined to Hill Field’s 388th and 419th Fighter Wings.
As the sixth largest employer in the state of Utah, the Air Logistics Complex and its 75th Air Base Wing are being defended by all of Utah’s congressional players at a time when many domestic, non-defense “safety net programs” are being suspended or indefinitely discontinued. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office numbers and report indicate that the drag on the nation’s economy will remain well into 2015.
Stewart said he is still concerned about too much government spending, just not with active duty Air Force and operations and maintenance personnel with Utah’s premiere Air Force base.