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McAuliffe, Krupicka Talk Sequestration with Del Ray Business Owners

Shopkeepers say they are already feeling the squeeze related to federal cuts.

Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe (D) toured Del Ray shops and restaurants with Del. Rob Krupicka (D-45th) on Friday to discuss sequestration with local business owners on the day the massive federal cuts went into effect.

“It is ridiculous the parties cannot come together,” said McAuliffe, who took notes while talking with business owners and staff members at The Neighborhood Pharmacy of Del Ray, Executive Lock and Key Service, Artfully Chocolate and other businesses. “We have to come together and compromise. We just did that on transportation in Richmond. It is imperfect, but it was a move in the right direction. … [With sequestration] we have to get together. It’s not a partisan political issue. Everything is affected.”

Krupicka, who just finished his first session in the General Assembly, said the cuts are going to have a direct impact on Alexandria’s school system, particularly “important support programs” and “programs that help our kids learn.”

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Northern Virginia is expected to feel the brunt of the sequester, with more than 200,000 jobs potentially on the line. The Department of Defense is expected to furlough thousands of civilian employees. With a large number of Defense employees and contractors living in Alexandria, the furloughs and layoffs are expected to have a ripple effect on businesses and real estate.   

Shopkeepers in Del Ray said they are feeling the squeeze.

“We’re already hearing about it,” said Eric Nelson, owner of Artfully Chocolate. “People are scrutinizing every dollar they spend. Our chocolate is more on the expensive side. People could be turning to M&M’s instead.”

Nelson, who also owns a shop in Carlyle, said that shop is less affected because of its proximity to the Patent and Trademark Office, “an economic generator for the government,” he said.

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Mellenie Runion, president of the Del Ray Business Association, toured the businesses with McAuliffe and Krupicka. She is the owner of Truly-Life, a home-based business specializing in handmade organic soaps and other products.

“Half my clients are federally employed,” she said. “When it comes to wedding gifts or gift favors, people are maybe saying ‘I’m not going to splurge on this local gift’ and buying something else. … This whole area relies on the federal government.”

Jill Erber, owner of Cheesetique, was not part of McAuliffe’s tour on Friday. While she said she does not like to see anyone lose their job, she believes the cuts should happen.

“Any business would do it,” said Erber, who identified herself as a Libertarian.

Erber said she would like to see the government operate more like a business.

“I don’t want my taxes to go to something that doesn’t pay for itself,” she said.

Paul Friedman March 05, 2013 at 05:49 AM
I am a fan of Jill Erber's restaurants. Yet, she apparently doesn't understand that most of what government does is what society needs but is not something it can buy because there is no way it will produce a profit or even pay for itself. Public schools set our nation apart for a century and allowed our nation to rise above the others in productivity by producing a more capable workforce. Yet, there was no specific profit in it. There was no way for people to see it "pay for itself" like in a business. Building an interstate highway system created a powerful new way for people to move and businesses to develop but that expenditure did not produce a profit for government. As with investing in children, the only thing produced was a societal good. Making sure that mail arrives safely seemingly has never been a profit making business and has lost money for years now. Would Ms. Erber prefer that we had never created the U.S. Postal Service? Would she end it now and leave everyone, the poor and the rural included, to rely upon the vagaries of private service that may or may not serve a town based upon its profitability? Government is people coming together to do things for each other that cannot be done at a profit or to make sure that the things being done for a profit are not deceptive or fraudulent. People can't take part in a free market if it is secretly fixed. Business has one goal, to make money. Government's is to help people. We need both.
Mr. Brown March 05, 2013 at 11:26 AM
Alex, while I agree that Government often does some things that don't make a profit, your examples are actually bad ones. School and mail delivery could be run at a profit, and in fact companies and local school districts do those thing at cost, in the case of schools, and for profit, in the case of private mail delivery. I would argue that the Government, especially the Federal Government, believes that there is no relationship between money spent and results. This isn't exactly profit-minded, but it is also not realistic. Mrs. Erber's point is that in tough economic times, even the Government will have to change it's behavior. It has not, and refuses to admit that it should.
Callimachus March 05, 2013 at 02:15 PM
Amen Ms. Erber! I'll be patronizing your restaurant even more now! Mr. Mann, your points on "public goods" are well made. But I interpreted her comments to be about government operating within its means.
Jill Erber March 05, 2013 at 08:14 PM
I appreciate Mr. Hansen soliciting my opinion on this topic and including my alternative perspective. Callimachus’ interpretation of my comment is correct – government at all levels needs to operate within its means. I also agree that Alex Mann’s points on public goods are well made (folks differ on the extent of government’s role, but I would venture that nearly everyone believes there are some public goods). But the federal government has been running an unsustainable deficit. It is very unlikely we can tax our way to solvency. Some cuts need to be made. The sequester is inelegant and it will have a disproportionate impact on Northern Virginia, but this is a chance for our region to show leadership in the face of pain. Additionally, our state and local leaders can use this opportunity to consider pro-growth policies to increase business in Virginia (streamline the regulatory process and offer competitive tax rates). Business investment leads to job growth which leads to higher business, sales, income, and property tax receipts. That is a virtuous cycle. Finally, I appreciate both Alex Mann’s and Callimachus’ complimentary words about Cheesetique. In addition to the expected impact of the sequester on my business, I realize I am taking a risk by offering a minority opinion on this topic. Hopefully, folks will continue to enjoy Cheesetique for the quality products and service we strive to provide and will take my comments as thoughtful and respectful. Thanks!
Mr. Brown March 05, 2013 at 09:12 PM
I think your point would be better made if private schools and private mail serivces didn't exsist, and out- perform the government, and were still able to adjust for different economic times. It's time we faced facts: the Federal Government causes as many problems as it solves.

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