Those who support the spending cuts likely will try to deal with this by talking about federal finances rather than local economies. We’ll hear about increased government efficiency, higher productivity, a reduced government workforce and a lower deficit. The clear implications will be that only the government will have to make do with less.
Experience shows that those arguments will only go so far because federal workers don’t only live in Washington, D.C. States have fought vigorously over the years to bring federal facilities into their communities to reap economic benefits, and they will fight at least as hard to keep them, especially given the dire forecasts of lower property values, reduced consumer spending and other repercussions of eliminating these jobs. In other words, it won’t just be the federal workers who will oppose the cuts; it will be the supermarkets, “big box” stores, restaurants, car dealerships, landlords, homeowners and others who will oppose the economic pain they see coming.
All of this means that, by the end of 2011, the popularity of federal spending that pollsters have been reporting may finally become common wisdom in Washington, as it already should have been.
Stan Collender is a partner at Qorvis Communications and founder of the blog Capital Gains and Games. He is also the author of “The Guide to the Federal Budget.”