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Finally, some good news on furloughs

Editorial

Finally, some good news on furloughs

There was some welcome news Tuesday when the Department of Defense announced that civilian defense workers who had been looking at 11 days of unpaid leave will now only have to endure six.

While that loss of income certainly hurts the wallet, the added five days of work means the financial impact won’t be as severe. For those who prepared for the worst, the reduction in lost wages is an unexpected benefit.

“We are extremely pleased that our civilian leaders in Washington, D.C., have found a way to reduce the number of furlough days, whereby reducing the financial impact to our civilian workforce,” Col. Don Davis, commanding officer for Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany, said Tuesday. “Restoring our civilian workers to a full-work status sooner enables us to focus on fully supporting our operating forces and ensuring our Marine Corps remains the world’s premier force in readiness.”

This isn’t the time to make providing for our nation’s defense any more difficult, particularly in light of the concerns about possible attacks at our embassies this week. There are those who hate America and want to see our nation crumble. We need every arrow in our quiver ready and available, and that includes civilian support staff.

It’s worrisome that Congress and the White House allowed this whole sequestration situation to happen at all. America faces enough challenges without manufacturing unnecessary new ones. Sequestration was spectacularly unnecessary.

It’s even more worrisome that these problems don’t magically go away on Oct. 1, when the 2014 federal government budget year rolls around.

The way things stand, in FY 2014 the Defense Department is looking at hacking $52 billion from its spending, which Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel noted Tuesday is 40 percent more than the $37 billion it had to trim in the current budget year.

“Facing this uncertainty, I cannot be sure what will happen next year,” Hagel admitted, “but I want to assure our civilian employees that we will do everything possible to avoid more furloughs.”

Congress passed sequestration, including the White House’s demand that defense be included in the across-the-board cuts, because lawmakers erroneously thought that even they would not be so negligent as to allow it to happen. But when a bipartisan panel of representatives and senators were unable to come up with an actual workable plan to trim federal spending, sequestration came to be.

When it comes to ineptitude in governing, our elected officials in Washington repeatedly underestimate themselves.

America’s government can’t continue spending at its present levels with its present income. Borrowing 40 cents of every dollar spent is foolishness. But no individual would deal with this sort of overspending by cutting 40 percent of spending across the board. The mortgage company, we wager, would be less than thrilled with an attempt to pay it only 60 percent of the monthly house payment, and we doubt a grocery store will allow a $3 loaf of bread to go out of the store for $1.80.

America deserves better government than this. And government needs to hear it.