Monday, May 16, 2005

BRAC Losers....

While some communities would benefit handsomely from the BRAC recommendations released last week, others would incur significant losses, in terms of jobs and tax revenue. Here's my list of projected losers in the latest round of base closings and realignments.

1. Connecticut. Don Rumsfeld's Pentagon gives the BRAC finger to Senators Joe Leiberman and (particularly) Chris Dodd. Under the Pentagon's recommendations, the New London sub base would close, resulting in the loss of 8,586 military and civilian billets.

2. Maine. Moderate GOP Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe might consider staying on the Republican reservation in the future. Under Friday's BRAC list, the Navy would close its shipyard at Portsmouth, located along the Maine-New Hampshire border, resulting in the loss of 6,938 jobs.

3. District of Columbia. In the future, the U.S. military presence in the federal district may be limited to the Pentagon, as medical, support and administrative functions continue their migration to the 'burbs. Under the BRAC recommendations, Washington D.C. would lose 6,496 military and civilian jobs, thanks in part to a massive downsizing at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

4. Atlanta, GA. While the rest of the Peach State did well under BRAC, the city of Atlanta took a massive hit, losing Ft McPherson, Ft Gillem and NAS Atlanta. Collectively, that will mean a loss of 6,730 jobs in the city. If you include the loss of the Naval Supply School in nearby Athens, that total climbs to 7,243. Congressman-for-live John Lewis can't be very happy these days.

5. Kentucky. Republican Senators Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning, please call Ft Knox. Under the BRAC plan, that venerable Army post would lose thousands of jobs, resulting in the loss of 5,324 military positions across the state. A slight gain in civilian billets reduces the total job loss to 3,658. Some consolation prize for the Senate Majority Whip.

6. Alaska. The Murkowski political dynasty ain't what it used to be (former Senator Frank currently occupies the governor's mansion; his daughter Lisa now holds his Senate seat). Together, the Murkowskis' must explain how Alaska lost 4,619 jobs under BRAC, thanks largely to planned reductions at Eielson AFB (Fairbanks) and Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage.

7. New Jersey. Plans to close Ft Monmouth help generate a 3,760 loss of military and civilian jobs. Perhaps Senator Frank Lautenberg should consider retiring. Again.

8. Missouri. Freshman Republican Governor Matt Blunt made a decision not to actively lobby for his state's military bases and installations. Bad move. The loss of two defense finance offices (St. Louis and Kansas City), coupled with other planned reductions, will result in the loss of 3,679 jobs in the Show-Me State.

9. New Mexico. The good news? Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque and Holloman AFB in Alamogordo stay open. The bad news? Cannon AFB in Clovis is shutting down, putting a huge dent in the local economy, through the loss of 2,842 military and civilian jobs. Senator Pete Domenici (R) and Democratic Governor Bill Richardson will pull out all the stops to save Cannon. Otherwise, will the last person out of Clovis please turn off the lights?

10. North Dakota. BRAC recommendations call for the closing of Grand Forks AFB, located along the North Dakota-Minnesota border, resulting in the loss of 2,645 military and civilian jobs. Democratic Senators Byron Dorgen and Kent Conrad will be hard-pressed to state's the region's largest employer this side of, er, Minot AFB.

Of course, the list released on Friday is merely the Pentagon's list of recommended base closures and realignments. The list must still be approved by the BRAC commission, Congress and the President. Now the lobbying and political horse-trading really begins.

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