- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Well, the unthinkable sequestration has indeed happened and all, including myself and the rest of the St. Mary’s County commissioners, are wondering what is next. Let’s first realize that this is a political problem that was created and will have to be solved by our elected officials in Washington, D.C. There is nothing we can do about it locally.
Next, where and what are the impacts. First, I watch it from a financial markets perspective. Big Money talks. What we are hearing and watching is simply political gamesmanship. The stock and bond markets have not even yawned at Washington’s theatrics, or for that matter, the TV talking heads. The stock market is testing record highs and bonds corresponding at record low yields. Bottom line, today your 401(k) is OK. I can’t promise tomorrow or next week. So here I breathe a big sigh of calm.
Locally, we all have to realize that we in St. Mary’s County have been relatively unaffected by the past few years’ national recession. I’m not saying we haven’t been touched, but in comparison our unemployment rates, earnings and lifestyles have remained modest. Now, however, a different story. How it unfolds will be the answer. I am well aware of how pre-sequestration effects for the last 12 months or so are hitting so many households. I now ponder the next phase.
It isn’t going to happen overnight; the sun did come up today and the earth didn’t shake. This could be the legendary “death by a thousand cuts.” What the county commissioners will watch closely is the implementation of government actions and other types of workforce reactions.
Furloughs are being discussed. They aren’t set in concrete. They will, if implemented, be Department of Defense-wide, if not federally wide, and will have to be directed by the president and Office of Management and Budget. They will not be specific to Patuxent River Naval Air Station. The initial salvo will be if the furloughs happen, their effect on the local economy and how long they could last. Right now it is a huge unknown and nobody has the answer; please don’t think they do.
There are short-term and long-term economic effects to our county. Remember, St. Mary’s County is in great financial shape due to fiscal responsibility and accountability to our citizens.
What I want to say is we are treading into a world we haven’t faced here before. I don’t want to dwell on “what-ifs” since I don’t have an answer. We are largely federally dependent; a blessing and a curse. We have to unfortunately face the reality and not panic. My family and I are in the same boat as you.
The county commissioners are in contact daily with our federal, state, Navy and local leaders. My belief is we will take a patient and pragmatic approach. My goal, and I believe that of the board of county commissioners, is to address our long-term issues and needs and not have a spontaneous knee-jerk reaction. We are one St. Mary’s County.
Todd B. Morgan, Lexington Park
The writer is a St. Mary’s County commissioner.