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Contra Costa County Economy Facing Uncertain Future if Sequester Shrinks Budgets

Federal agencies will have fewer funds beginning Friday if Republicans and Democrats can’t avoid the sequester deadline.

A political deal struck in the summer of 2011 will begin to affect the economy Friday, unless feuding lawmakers in Washington can agree on a compromise.

The sequester will mandate significant cuts to the federal budget, with few if any government agencies immune to reductions in funding. Defense and domestic spending will be evenly slashed, and the impacts on local economies are far from clear.

Contra Costa County has some 12,500 federal employees and retirees, according to Eye on Washington, and their fate could include furloughs or worse. Media reports include warnings on delays in air travel and tax refunds. Civilians employed by the Department of Defense face the possibility of furloughs.

Rep. Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena), who represents Pinole and Hercules in Congress, released a statement last week criticizing lawmakers for putting air traffic jobs at risk.

“These political games being played by the House Majority in Washington are costing real people their jobs here at home and unnecessarily putting people’s safety at risk,” a press release quoted Thompson as saying. “This needs to stop. If sequestration goes into effect we will see arbitrary, harsh, across-the-board budget cuts that Republicans, Democrats, economists and business leaders all say would send our economy into a tail spin and cause essential government services, like air traffic control, to close."

To see which local businesses have defense contracts that will be affected by the cuts, search the Congressional District Reports at For the Common Defense.org.

Downloadable spreadsheets show the contract dollar amount, contractor business name,  address and phone number, the contractor industry classification, and whether the business is a small or disadvantaged business, woman-owned, minority-owned or veteran-owned, according to the website.

The Obama administration released on Sunday a report for each state detailing the impacts of the sequester’s budget cuts, and Republicans have accused the president of using scare tactics for political gain.

The seven-page report for California paints a grim picture for education, environmental protections, the military, law enforcement, child care, public health and government services. The report is attached to this article in the PDF section.

The nation has been through this drill before. The sequester was set to begin on Jan. 1, 2013, if lawmakers weren’t able to reduce the budget deficit. That deadline came and went, but they were able to agree on postponing the sequester for two months. That time is running out.

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Patty O'Day February 28, 2013 at 11:50 PM
Bogus scare tactics.

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