By: Stephen B. Lanning

Santa Barbara Independent

There’s an old adage that you’re either part of the problem or part of the solution.

No one takes responsibility for anything in Washington.  It’s always someone else’s fault.  It’s always on someone else’s watch.  All the while, politicians continue to ask us to let them keep their jobs.

Where I come from, if you don’t do your job, you shouldn’t be able to keep it.

Congress isn’t getting the job done.

There’s a price we all pay for the consistent inability of Washington to solve the critical challenges we face.  What is considered a problem today evolves into a crisis tomorrow.

A lot of the time, the American people are all shielded from the consequences of this inaction as gimmicks, trade-offs, and deals become substitutes for actual policy.  It’s a charade that’s been going on for a very long time and one that has finally caught up to Congress because this time there are real consequences at stake that will impact every single person in America.

Congress calls it “sequestration” but Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said it best when he characterized it as “very dangerous” cuts to our national defense.

The question that bothers me is what is Congresswoman Lois Capps doing about this?

She’s been in Washington for 14 years and so far, she has been content to stand idly by and let these potentially catastrophic and reckless cuts compromise our ability to keep this country safe and secure.

What’s even more disappointing about her silence is the fact that the Central Coast is home to an important military constituency being so close to Vandenberg Air Force Base and Point Mugu Naval Air Station.  The truth of the matter is Congresswoman Capps’s failure to act and lead has put a huge cloud of uncertainty over these two military installations which also represent two of the largest employers in Santa Barbara and Ventura County.

Abel Maldonado put it best when he said recently that “last year, Washington reached its credit card limit and instead of making tough decisions – they punted and the result has jeopardized the well-being of our national security and local economic viability.”

As the former commander at Vandenberg Air Force Base and as someone who has spent decades in the United States military, I appreciated and respected Abel coming out so forcefully against sequestration.

Abel understands both the national security implications and the economic impact to California and the Central Coast.  A recent study conducted by the Center for Security Policy projects California to be one of the hardest hit states should the sequestration go into effect.  The study says that California will lose 125,789 jobs, 19,634 active-military employees and 15,341 civilian employees.  All-in-all, the state would see a $10.79 billion decrease in GDP.

You would think that in the face of this potentially devastating course of action, the Congresswoman would be aggressively fighting to protect the men and women who live and work at Vandenberg AFB and Point Mugu.  Instead, she left Washington to come back and campaign for re-election.

While she didn’t do anything to stop sequestration from being put in place, Congresswoman Capps is still in a position to help undo the damage before it’s too late.  Two times in recent months, the House of Representatives have voted on bills that would have protected Vandenberg AFB and Point Mugu from the devastating cuts and each time, Congresswoman Capps voted “no.”

Congresswoman Capps has made it very clear by her actions that she will not stand-up for the Central Coast and fight against a crisis that the United States Congress is solely responsible for.  It is a stunning abdication of her responsibilities as a Congresswoman and as a representative of the Central Coast.

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