Sequester battle continues with no end in sight

Sequester battle continues with no end in sight

The Obama administration attempted to undercut a political threat by top leaders in the defense industry on Monday as the never-ending trench warfare over sequestration kept up its churn.

The Department of Labor announced that under present law, vendors would not have to notify their employees this fall they could be laid off if the automatic, across-the-board budget restrictions take effect. In fact, an administration white-paper said, it would be “inappropriate” for them to do so.

Here’s what Labor wrote in its guidance:

It is unlikely that employers will have enough information to predict which contracts will be affected and therefore which plants could close and which groups of employees could experience employment losses at least without additional information about FY 2013 funding (which has not yet been enacted) and how agencies will operate within the constraints of a January 2 sequestration order (should one have to be issued) … Where, as here, employers now have virtually no information from which to determine whether their contracts will be affected, there is no basis on which to form a business judgment.

Elsewhere, Assistant Labor Secretary Jane Oates summed up the situation even more concisely:

Questions have recently been raised as to whether [the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification] Act requires federal contractors — including, in particular, contractors of the Department of Defense — whose contracts may be terminated or reduced in the event of sequestration on January 2, 2013, to provide WARN Act notices 60 days before that date … The answer to this question is “no.”

The “uncertainty” about sequester that has so bothered the defense industry is being turned back on it by the Obama administration, which argues, hey, how are you going to know what people to warn you’ll lay off if you don’t know what your business will look like after the dust settles? (To which House lawmakers have said: This is why we need the Pentagon to do a comprehensive study of the after-effects! And the vortex continues to spin.)

But even though Oates wrote it would be “inconsistent” with the law for a Lockheed Martin to issue tens of thousands of layoff warnings, the note doesn’t seem to indicate whether that is actually illegal. Lockheed and the other brand-name firms could well send anything they want to their employees, up to and including potential layoff warnings, just to try to goose voters into goosing politicians to resolve the sequester.

Some people are already sold — Bryan McGrath writes that Obama can’t afford to risk tens of thousands of layoff advisories so close to Election Day, and as such he expects Congress to cut a deal by Oct. 15. Still, if Lockheed’s and others’ layoff threats are such a potent weapon, why would Republicans take it away? House leaders have already said they don’t want to deal with sequester until this year’s lame duck session, and as they approach their biggest goal in recent memory — dethroning the president — they want to fire everything in the magazine. So Republicans could make noises about wanting a deal but keep up their tough line so the layoff warnings go out anyway.

The problem with this never-ending melodrama is that, to continue the weapon metaphor, sequestration is a live grenade in a locked room. If it goes off, it’ll hit everyone. Unless the political reality changes drastically between now and November, no one expects a decisive electoral result for either Republicans or Democrats. So the deadlock we see today could well continue into the winter, and the Democrats with no incentive to compromise now may have even less then — especially if a desperate Lockheed went against the Labor Department’s guidance and decided to play its layoff card, with an implicit GOP blessing.

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid has made clear that if his opponents want to get nuts, he too is willing to get nuts. Republicans can wail and moan all they want about forfty million jobs lost in the aftermath of sequester, Reid has said (in so many words) but if they won’t play ball his way, he will let the grenade go off. This has always been the fiendish genius of the Doomsday Device — anyone can use it but no one can master it. And that could mean, ironically, that Republicans defense advocates might fold first.

All along, Democrats seem to have been betting that war-weary and spending-averse voters on both sides of the political spectrum will care less about defense than all other election-year priorities. They may have a point. Defense advocates in D.C. have spent months shrieking and banging pots and pans over sequester. Where’s any evidence they’ve moved the needle with voters whose own livelihood wasn’t on the line? Conventional wisdom has it that Obama has better “national security” cred than his GOP opponent, Mitt Romney. With an anemic economy and high unemployment, how much do voters care?

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Northrop Grumman CEO Wes Bush and several other top political and defense industry leaders staged a “rally” outside Washington on Monday to protest the sequester. Their audience of white-collar defense contractors and government employees need little prodding. But what do people in Pittsburgh or Indianapolis or Phoenix think? They might hear “$1.2 trillion in reduced federal budget growth” and think, Yes please!

Which could be yet another reason defense advocates want to resolve sequester before the election — based on some polls, Americans want to dial Pentagon spending back much further than even today’s most draconian scenarios. Lockheed and Republicans assume that sounding the alarm about DoD’s budget will be a winner with voters, but that could also make it a target. That’s yet another incentive for Democrats not to go along with a deal until the last minute — or at all.

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All companies that might be affected should send them out, so that the Employees “Voters ” know or can find out where their Representatives stand on the issue, One Way or the Other.

Everyone is a loser as long as there is Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD). The taxpayers are getting sub par performance for their tax dollar while DoD employees and contractors focus on their jobs and pay instead of delivering. The contractors are reducing their risk by deferring long lead items that if procured judiciously would save taxpayer dollars. DoD employees do not even know what is going on behind the closed doors of the senior leaders. Salami slicing the DoD budget will only unbalance programs. Without forethought, cuts will only hurt programs. Even a few percent cut in a program or a longer program timeline allows contractors to re-baseline all of their performance metrics. In addition to the slow down from Sequestration, ever minor problem in contract performance will get written off in the re-baseline.

The Constitution includes provisions for: providing for the common defense, maintaining a stable currency, lead the country in foreign policy, and preserve the National heritage (resources and property). If there should be budget cutting then the Government should start by getting out of activities that it shouldn’t be in to start with. These cuts should include entitlement programs and activities not traceable to our Constitution. Should Congress even be getting paid since they can’t even pass a Budget?

Overall no one outside of congress who gets money from defense companies and or employees will care. More and more americans want the DoD to lose pork like GCV and ICC and concentration on priorities. However the money grabbers wont listen.

I look forward to 25,000 democratic leaning voters aerospace and defense workers being laid off in the great state of washington personally becuase washington state is held by the democrats

This is ideal — contractors volenteering for job cuts. If Obama is re-elected he just has to designate to cut the areas that have already volenteered while if flip-flop gets in the jobs can be outsourced to india.

Itfunk is an Obama supporter? No surprises there.

Lameduck session.

Gee I guess Prince Reid is showing his muscle oops meant stupidity when it was noted that Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid has made clear that if his opponents want to get nuts, he too is willing to get nuts. Republicans can wail and moan all they want about forty million jobs lost in the aftermath of sequester, Reid has said (in so many words) but if they won’t play ball his way, he will let the grenade go off.

Just whom does he think he is, guess he forgot that oath he took to Protect and defend the United States

Every Company that might be affected should “Demand” that their States, Senators & Congressman be held Accountable for this. It should be Out in Front for the Up “Coming Election”. So that everyone in their State Knows Exactly where they stand, and how many jobs are at stake. And let the “Voters” decide their fate.

Well, since Leader Reid, Speaker Boehner and the WH came to a spending agreement today that will cover six months beyond October 1st, I think the long term work will get done in the Lame Duck or the first three weeks of the new Congress. Since everyone with a brain is coming to the conclusion that austerity has been an absolute disaster everywhere its tried, I would expect higher rates paid above 250K (everything below that at the current rates), and additional spending on infrastructure and the military when the new Congress is seated.
Were it not for the stupid state and local cutbacks during the past two to three years unemployment would be about 1–2% less than today.

Austerity would not be necessary if priorities were set correctly and the pork was regularly cut away. Since that is impossible in the Congress, we should demand Harry Reid have it his way. The only way a body of politicians that have been elected for generations on giveaway promises to stop spending is to set off a doomsday device like sequestration. No one has their fingerprints on it, which is how a politician likes to give bad news. And where has austerity been tried? Are you referring to Europe or Wisconsin? I see riots at the mention of cutbacks, if that is what you mean by disaster. If we can do it (cutback), and they can’t, we will prosper and they won’t. Stupid State and local cutbacks, you say? I say it is stupid to continue to borrow money for government operations, even if it is just artificial credit in a ledger from the Fed at 0.1% interest. It can’t be sustained. The Emperor has no clothes.

Raise taxes you say? I say there is never enough of other people’s money to spend buying votes. I was one of the cowards hoping for a bailout in 2008. I was consumed with fear that I would lose everthing. Too big to fail was all over the blogs then. I’m calm now. I want a rational monetary system that I can understand, and listen up…I want people and business entities and governments who take too much risk to belly up and start over, never to sin again.

Congress and the President should not be getting paid until they pass a budget and he signs it. All their pay and allowances should go to reducing the deficit. But we know that will never happen.

Why is it the only areas the President and the DemocRATS in congress what to cut is Defense, Social Security and Medicare.

One great Democrat prez once said “Ask Not What Your Country Can Do for You but What You can Do for Your Country”

Todays Prez and DemocRATS “Ask Not What You Can Do for Your Country but What Your Country Will Give You

I would really like to know the truth about the “21 NEW TAXES” that we will get hit with when Obamacare kicks in! I heard that some of these “surprises” will start in 2013. Of course it will start AFTER the election!

Too many people are looking at this like “defense” equals “tanks and guns and bombs”. They think “cut defense spending” means fewer tanks and guns and bombs.

What it *means* is that there are exactly the same number of tanks and guns and bombs, but there are no more rocket scientists. Which means that the weather reporting we have now is the best we’ll ever have and it’ll only get worse. The satellite navigation we have now is the best we’ll ever have and it’ll only get worse. The airplanes we have now are the best we’ll ever have and they’ll only get worse. The space travel we have now is the best we’ll ever have and it’ll only get worse. And so on.

Sequestration doesn’t mean “no more wars”. It means that you’re telling all those smart kids going into college and wondering what to do that they’d be better off going into marketing and finance because America Doesn’t Do Science Anymore.

I am just gonna vote against all incumbents.


It seems not at all surprising that within the current rhetoric on sequestering and reducing defense spending, it is an implied assumption that the DoD is highly efficient and cost reductions have to be made through reducing program spending, internal operating budget reductions and other DoD cost targets. What is not being considered is the massive institutional cost of operating and maintain the DoD. Bureaucracies, organizational effectiveness, financial and acquisition regulatory requirements all translate to massive operating costs.

The British Ministry of Defense is looking into outsourcing its procurement and support organization due to “being partly responsible for a string of delays and overspending on key equipment programs…” and cites “.…a lack of business capabilities…” The US DoD can save billions of dollars by changing the way it does business and by doing so, become a more effective organization developing and fielding weapon systems and military capabilities while being less burdensome on the US taxpayer. DoD Leadership appear reluctant to engage in such dialogue and instead, posture in support of the specter that a defense budget cutback equates to a reduced military capability.

At this time, we need leadership, both in our elected government and those entrusted with stewardship of federal funding, to do their job.… lead with honesty, integrity and with the foremost mindset, what is in the greater good of our people and our country as a whole. They need to make the tough decisions and then manage with determination, skill and experience they have lead us to believe they have, to navigate through this time of financial restructuring and debt reduction otherwise, we will be failed by their efforts and we will have more to worry about than a reduced military capability.

This is Democrat politics at its finest. Create a crisis and then try to capitalize on it by blaming the Republicans. Harry Reid is one of the most beligerent, arrogant, and egotistical politicians that Washington has seen in a long time. You can also apply that he is a total DUFUS. It is amazing that he and the Demoncrats claim that they want to engage in bipartisan cooperative and collegial work on Capital Hill when King Harry makes comments shuch as: “Reid has said (in so many words) but if they won’t play ball his way, he will let the grenade go off.” That has been the Demoncrat position even before Obama was elected. Once Obama was elected, it got worse. As an obvious asice, King Harry is nots without Republican help.

All of you unionized defense workers, remember to support eh Democrats… after all, they are the ones who came up with a 500 million defense cut followed by automatic sequestration cuts when the Democrats never intended to reach an agreement on cuts last year. Your union dues are helping put you out of work.

You are amazingly correct If the DOD gets sequesterd all they have to do is cut the wasted spending and there might even be a increase in aqusitions. This might be a good thing , when you have to tighten your belts at home it’s amazing how you can find ways to save money and still get by. But I think that if the DOD gets sequesterd than every department in the Government should get sequestered as well ‚let’s spread the pain . The whole government should get sequestered and pay down the debt. Of course the average Joe (& jane+ little jenny and jimmy too! ) would be hurting and our great politicians (who caused this mess ) would still have steak on their plate. Eddie murphy said this about Jonny Carson when his wife divorced him, if you got 30 million and the B#$^CH (wife) takes half you still have 15million “you aint starving” but if you have 30 thousand and the B#$^CH (wife) takes half you gonna have to Kil … (deal with it) you know what i mean.

Welcome back Hollow Military — hope we don’t have a REAL crisis to deal with. Iran is not the 600 pound gorilla in the room, but China sure is.

I agree. The government has no reason to send billions to Egypt’s military establishment directly, or prop up Afghanistan’s corrupt administration with bloated graft. Why is our government trying to appease every other citizen of the world except American’s?

Which has more priority, the oath to protect and defend the United States or the oath most republicans took to Mr. Norquist? Oaths are funny things to politicians. They apparently don’t have the same definition the rest of the country uses.

Cutting the Defense Budget has been a Dream of the Dems for so long, NOW they can do it and Blame someone else, so it’s Full Speed Ahead!

Agree completely

We have a MORE THAN ONE — PARTISAN Representative Government. How do we get “ACTUALLY” represented?

Whichever individual government representative party official thinks he/they (whichever party) has/not have control — just because they were “ELECTED” … from … “ONE” … state; (is it BECAUSE OF THEIR SENIORITY?) that they can control (or must control as they perceive) … other actions and representation of policies and government procedures.

If all government representatives “ACTUALLY FAIL on passing a budget” … again … as they almost failed not that long ago … SHOULD THEY GET PAID FOR FAILURE … should they NOT get paid and their benefits cut because of their failure?

Partisan majority or minority who pays the bill .… us the little guys taxpayers.

Reid is too busy talking about how Romney “hasn’t paid taxes” rather than trying to pass a budget or make tough decisions.

So I take it Curiosity will be bringing some of these people back from Mars? Because there aren’t any in any part of DOD, HSA, TSA, FAA, NASA, or the US Congress. As it is, most of our present swamp of candidates look like nothing so much as S___s Appliance Salesmen. And our happy bunch of major crimes specialists in the MIC are willing to help anyone turn $100,000,000 of taxpayer money into dog food. The worst thing is, the best ideas are the first ones to get thrown away, while everyone else starts looking for their own high speed rail project.

Would you be willing to spend 10,000 bucks of your OWN money to make this “unhollow military” a fact? Let’s face it, we’ve got more failed military projects than anyone knows what to do with, while we have some of the best military designers and manufacturers in the world available here. They’re still remanufacturing F-5s, F-15s, and F-16s, for Pete’s sake, along with a lot of other US weapons. Meanwhile, we’re stuffed full of Lockheed, Colt, and other MIC suckling pig’s mistakes. I’d love to know how much the average US soldier in Iraq had to pay out of his own pocket (apologies to the distaff half of the combatants) to get useable equipment, and worse, how much more they’d have to pay just to get a rifle where jamming is not a critical issue. And meanwhile, God Help the Navy and the USCG.

Quit drinking the evil MIC cool aid. It has nothing to do with the hollow military. BTW, Soldiers have been buying their own gear since before the Romans and the M4 does just fine.

As for spending $10k of one’s own money on defense that has provided us the world’s premier military while welfare has created the world’s most affluent generations of freeloaders and a war on poverty that goes on and on and on.

Great idea…just go into the voting booth as an unguided, indiscriminate weapon of dumb-ocracy. Beats doing the hard work of being an informed and responsible citizen.

This is no smaller an abrogation of responsibility than when our elected, accountable representatives in Congress punted the Federal Budget to the “Supercommittee,” which further punted to the zombie-like “automatic” cuts of sequestration. Let’s all join in on the festival of irresponsibility.

agree with you on harry reid. i wonder how much reid gets back in kickbacks & favors for nevada from obama in exchange for being obama’s “pet”.


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