Welcome to town, Mr. Cain, we’re glad you’re here. The national attention, though brief and rare, is appreciated.
Much could be made about Anniston being included on Cain’s tour of Alabama cities. Clearly, it is good — make that excellent — to be on a list that includes Birmingham, Huntsville and Tuscaloosa.
But for Anniston, it’s just as important that Cain’s time here will be centered at the key to the city’s future — McClellan, the former Army post whose ongoing redevelopment ranks alongside public education improvements as irrefutable Anniston needs.
It is unfortunate that the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza can’t spend a day touring the shuttered post; instead, his McClellan schedule calls mainly for a breakfast rally given by the Anniston Tea Party at the Cane Creek Golf Club. That’s not enough time for an outsider to fully comprehend the importance McClellan holds to the economic future of northeast Alabama.
Cain would be wise to see Anniston as an example of a quintessential American community facing an unsure, yet hopeful, future. Though McClellan no longer houses thousands of U.S. Army soldiers, the city intently monitors Washington’s military budget-slashers. Anniston Army Depot, one of Calhoun County’s vital employers, relies on government work. Wars are good for the depot’s repair shops; damaged or worn-out Humvees, tanks, jeeps, Strykers and assorted weapons are big business in Anniston.
Fewer wars — such as Iraq, which is winding down — mean the fear of a lessened depot workload. And a lessened workload is good for neither the depot nor the thousands of Calhoun County residents who depend on depot paychecks.
Our suggestion is for those responsible for Cain’s appearance to focus his attention on this topic while he is here. Remind him that, if he becomes the GOP nominee, his views on defense spending will be critical for many U.S. communities, Anniston included. With the economy still sagging and the federal deficit in the trillions, defense is a prime area considered for wise cuts and frugal decisions. That we’ve been fighting multiple wars without generating new revenue to pay the war bills is part of that discussion.
Cain is advertised as a savvy businessman with sparkling people skills and a knack for making wise decisions that produce results. So, we ask: If elected, how would he address the real need to trim defense spending yet not rip the lifeblood out of communities that depend so heavily on military contracts?
In other words, would a Cain administration help or hurt Anniston’s chances to protect and expand the depot and McClellan’s remaining military uses with the National Guard?
Cain’s spending a few minutes today at McClellan. Seems the perfect time for him to tell us where he stands on this vital Anniston issue.