City Desk

Defense Cuts: Not as Bad for D.C. as They Seem

How screwed is Washington's economy if $1 trillion in military budget cuts aren't averted by January? Pretty screwed, but not as badly as the Washington Examiner would have you believe.

The Examiner picked up yesterday a defense industry-funded George Mason University study (PDF) saying that the cuts to the military budget are going to cost the Washington area around 450,000 jobs directly or indirectly connected to defense. That number includes a whopping 127,407 estimated jobs lost in D.C. alone, although the estimate includes every industry that could be indirectly affected by the cuts, including leisure and education. That's one lost job for every five residents, the Examiner points out. The ripple job loss was calculated using a statistics program that measures the economic impact of government cuts.

Add the 114,795 lost jobs in Maryland and the 207,571 from Virginia, and the Washington region is facing an economic catastrophe.

Except the Examiner has an interesting definition of "Washington region." From the article, the Examiner seems to be including all of the estimated jobs lost in Maryland and Virginia. Even if you take the enormous leaps that all of Maryland is in the Washington metro area, that still leaves huge Virginian bases like Norfolk and Virginia Beach to inflate Washington's job-loss numbers.

In other words, the budget sequestration cuts would be bad news for Washington, but not as terrible as the Examiner thinks.

Meanwhile, in sequestration coverage at the Post, the paper's dyscalculia tripped up national security reporter Walter Pincus, whose column Tuesday confused $1 billion in Pentagon cuts over 10 years with the actual number, $1 trillion.

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