The Skeptics

Why BRAC Might Be Back

Jordan told me that Sen. Angus King had attended the ribbon cutting for Flight Deck Brewing in March. And we learned that Sen. King has also visited the online home furniture retailer Wayfair. Andrew Cantillo greeted us at the door of a modern facility that was once the Navy Exchange building. The facility employs 150, with plans to grow to 200 soon.

I also stopped at the former Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which closed in 1988. Pease International is now home to over 250 businesses employing nearly 9,600 people. A 2015 study of the economic impact of Pease’s closure found that “The Seacoast economy has outperformed the New Hampshire economy in both the short and long term, due in no small part to the success of Pease.” It also estimated that “the economy has added nearly 32,000 jobs since Pease closed.”

These and other cases are why I like to say that bases aren’t closed—they’re opened.

We should listen to Secretary Mattis: BRAC “is essential to improving our readiness by minimizing wasted resources and accommodating force adjustments.”

It is obvious, however, that the secretary needs some help making the case. I don’t believe that President Trump can be counted on to do it. As he discovered with the abortive effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, threatening tweets aren’t enough to dislodge determined opposition to his legislative priorities.

Here’s an idea: we should encourage those senators who have seen successful base conversations in their states to help make the case to their skeptical colleagues. Senators Shaheen and Hassan of New Hampshire, for example, could boast about Portsmouth’s success. Or Senators King or Collins could invite people to join them for an adult beverage in Brunswick.

The possibilities are endless.

Christopher Preble is vice president for defense and foreign-policy studies at the Cato Institute and the author of The Power Problem: How American Military Dominance Makes Us Less Safe, Less Prosperous, and Less Free.

ImageU.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis looks at his watch as he waits for the arrival of Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti at the Pentagon in Washington, U.S., July 11, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria​