William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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THE COST OF CUTS – AT 10:18 A.M. ET:  The president will go to the Pentagon today to announce a new defense strategy, which will be based on a smaller force, the result of budget cuts.

Budget cuts, though, have consequences.  The most immediate are within the services themselves.  But they trickle down to the civilian sector.  Consider this loss:

WICHITA, Kan. (AP/CBS Seattle) – Faced with defense budget reductions, the Boeing Co. announced Wednesday it will close its defense plant in Wichita by the end of 2013, moving future aircraft maintenance, modification and support to its plant in San Antonio, Texas, and engineering work to Oklahoma City. Work on the Air Force refueling tanker will be performed in Puget Sound, Wash.

Boeing did not clarify whether the work would be done in Everett or Seattle.

The closure will cost more than 2,160 workers their jobs and end the firm’s presence in a city where it has been a major employer for generations.

The decision was not entirely unexpected. The company said in November it was studying whether to close the Wichita facility, which specializes in modifying commercial aircraft for military or government operations, to address Defense Department budget cuts. The first layoffs are expected to begin in the third quarter of 2012.

COMMENT:  Boeing built B-29s in Wichita in World War II.  We are going to see other stories like that as our forces are cut.  These cuts come at a time when international threats are growing, not receding.  It is a strange way to defend the country.

We should point out that every modern drawdown in American military forces has been a failure.  We had to build them right up again when the next crisis came.  This is false economy, but it will make the president's "anti-war" base very happy. 

January 5, 2012