Governors consider Inhofe’s sequester plan

As their states braced themselves for the $1.2 trillion in spending cuts known as sequestration that will take effect March 1, several of the nation’s governors voiced interest this weekend over the alternative plan to sequestration offered by Oklahoma’s Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe that Human Events first reported Thursday.

While many of the state’s chief executives here in Washington for the National Governors Association meeting had only heard of it and were not familiar with the details, most of those who we spoke to expressed positive opinions about the Inhofe plan: to move responsibility for choosing specific defense cuts into the hands of the leaders of the five services and letting them determine precisely where the cuts will take place.

“I have not read the plan in detail yet, but I would like to see it,” Oklahoma’s Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, a close ally of Inhofe and vice chairman of the NGA, told us. “Anything that would offer some kind of alternative to [the across-the-board cuts] in sequestration I would certainly consider.”

For Fallin and Inhofe, sequestration is a particularly sensitive issue. With five major military sites in Oklahoma, the Sooner State is very likely to experience particularly strong cuts. A recent article by former Federal Aviation Administration head and present Aerospace Industries Association CEO Marion Blakey estimated sequestration would cost Oklahoma nearly 16,000 jobs.

Mississippi’s GOP Gov. Phil Bryant was even stronger in his sentiments, telling us: “If you’ve got to make those cuts, let the service chiefs have wide latitude. When you are talking about a threat to national security and something that would cost jobs, this [sequestration] should never be happening. But I would love to see the details of [Inhofe’s] plan.”

Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker has also not seen the plan, but did volunteer that “we as governors are always asking for flexibility in doing things. So I can see the parallels here. It would make sense to give the service chiefs flexibility if Washington can’t come up with an alternative to sequestration.”

“It’s a very interesting prospect and it sounds good,” said Kansas’ Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, who previously served in the Senate with Inhofe. “Jim Inhofe is on the Armed Services Committee and certainly knows what he’s talking about. We certainly shouldn’t be having across-the-board cuts to our armed forces.”

There are always second opinions, of course. When Human Events talked to California’s Gov. Jerry Brown—who is deeply concerned about the toll sequestration will take on his state’s Air National Guard—he deadpanned: “I haven’t read his plan yet, but Sen. Inhofe is the one who is so skeptical about climate change. So perhaps I’m skeptical about his plan.”