SAN ANTONIO – Fiscal cliff: two words we’ve heard a lot lately that could drastically affect our military, nationwide and locally.
The fiscal cliff is what could happen January 1 – all of our taxes could go up, and federal spending could be slashed – because that’s when laws are supposed to kick in requiring the deficit to be cut in half. That’s what people mean by going off the cliff.
Congress set up that deadline to force itself to come up with a plan to avoid that scenario. But if lawmakers don’t find an alternative, local leaders will have to deal with the fallout.
According to the city, the military’s financial impact on San Antonio is $27 billion each year. That’s why falling off the fiscal cliff could hurt so much.
"It could be fairly devastating to us,” Bexar County Commissioner Kevin Wolff says.
He’s working with several city and county groups to nail down what’s been, until fairly recently, a hypothetical situation.
"The problem we're running into is nobody seems to know exactly what the effect would be,” Wolff says.
Here’s what he says they’ve figured out: on January 1, the Department of Defense would have to immediately cut its budget by 15%.
"But do you do that across the board? Or do you do that in a more scientific or measured manner?" Wolff says. "That could, from a Texas standpoint, mean over 100,000 jobs."
For some perspective, there are 189,000 military-related jobs in San Antonio alone.
But a point Wolff and many others are making to Congress is that San Antonio is the center of all military medical training and those facilities cannot be duplicated.
"I think everybody's keeping their fingers crossed that Congress gets their act together and decides to do something,” Wolff says.
Congress is trying to hammer out a deal to stop us from going over the fiscal cliff because it is such a question mark.
A spokesman for Joint Base San Antonio says there’s been no official word on what cuts, if any, could be coming down the pipeline.