The 10 States That Should Be Most Afraid (and Least Afraid) of the Sequester's Military Cuts

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The sequester is Washington's revenge on itself -- and Hawaii

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(Reuters)

Washington is where bad ideas come to live, but there are few ideas worse, or harder to kill, than the sequester. That's the $1.2 trillion in automatic, across-the-board spending cuts President Obama and House Republicans agreed to back in 2011 to blackmail themselves into reaching an alternative "grand bargain" on the long-term debt. It didn't work. And now the sequester, which neither side wanted to happen, is about to happen.

The sequester probably won't push us into a recession. But it will still beat up the economy pretty bad. As I explained last week, it will suck roughly $85 billion of government spending out of the economy in 2013 -- with half of that coming out of defense -- costing us somewhere between 700,000 and one million jobs over the next two years.

But which states will feel these cuts the most (and the least)? The White House has put out a state-by-state breakdown of the sequester's military cuts, which the Washington Post has helpfully compiled, that gives us a sense of who will get hurt and who won't. I took the raw numbers and adjusted for state populations to give us cuts per capita. As you can see in the chart below, Alaska and Hawaii get disproportionately large defense spending cuts for their size, followed not-so-closely by the Washington-metro area.

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You can breathe a bit easier if you live in the Midwest. The top three least-hit states, all with less than $3-of-cuts-per-person, come from flyover country.

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But whether you live in Hawaii or Wisconsin; Virginia or New Hampshire; or Georgia or Vermont; there's one thing we should all be able to agree on. More austerity now doesn't make any sense, let alone indiscriminate austerity like the sequester. It's time for Congress to do what it does best: avoid any tough decisions until it absolutely has to make them. 

Let's cancel the sequester, and focus on things that will actually create jobs instead.
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Matthew O'Brien

Matthew O'Brien is a former senior associate editor at The Atlantic.

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