StanCollender'sCapitalGainsandGames Washington, Wall Street and Everything in Between

Budget Cuts Have Consequences: Ask Andrews Air Force Base

21 May 2012
Posted by Stan Collender

I can't tell you the number of focus groups I've watched and polls I read where the overwhelming opinion was that federal spending could be cut without any decrease in the quantity and quality of what the government does.

Hell...As I posted about in 2010, even the recommendation from the co-chairs of the Bowles-Simpson commission -- who definitely should have known better -- proposed a reduction in the number of federal employees and the number of consultants but, presumably based on the assumption that the government wouldn't have to stop doing anything it was already doing, didn't suggest any activity be eliminated.

That's why this story in The Washington Post from several days ago caught my eye. The Defense Department has decided that what since the 1950s has been an annual show for the public at Andrews Air Force Base (now officially Joint Base Andrews) in suburban Maryland will now be held every other year. The savings are projected to be $2.1 million a year.

I have no problem with this decision or the many others like it that no doubt will be made as federal discretionary spending continues to be squeezed. I have posted in the past about how, no matter how valuable it may be in some sense, the annual National Book Festival staged by the Library of Congress should not be held at all.

As my Beautiful and Talented Wife (The BTW) can tell you, I have often railed at similar federal activities (military color guards provided free of charge to pro sports teams are especially annoying) because of their cost. Yes...I take great pride in seeing the Blue Angels do maneuvers and have enjoyed military band concerts. But as a budget guy I see little reason to be paying for that rather than better armor and training for those actually doing the fighting.

Anyone want to bet how long it takes before someone on Capital Hill, most likely someone who claims to be a fiscal conservative, proposes to restore the funds so that this show continues to be held each year? My guess is that the decision will be reversed by October 1 when fiscal 2013 begins.


Stan, you finally have given

Stan, you finally have given me a peek into the soul of a authentic conservative. Is that all we disagree on? That we need to cut back on fluff? Probably not, but I'd negotiate with you any day of the week.

Couldn't agree with you more

I live in San Francisco and work in marketing analytics. Last year I learned that one year old girls really don't like the Blue Angels flying over their house; and I'm highly skeptical that the military's ROI from their Fleet Week marketing expense pencils out under any reasonable assumptions. When was the last time they tested a holdout? Of all things that the government could to to reduce spending, I can't understand why this doesn't come to the top of the list.

Cut frills

In these times of cuts and squeezes for the main street, I cannot but fully endorse all kinds of decisions that do away with frills and fluff. Just as air travel went low-cost to adapt to economic and social changes, cutting on frills, the government and its agencies will do better taking a more critical look at every penny it spends.

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