Give Stephen Fuller credit for this much: He's willing to admit he was wrong.
During the debate leading up to the federal budget sequester, Fuller was a voice of doom. An economist at George Mason University and the director of its Center for Regional Analysis, he predicted that sequestration would be especially calamitous for Washington, D.C., and its surroundings. If Congress didn't stop the automatic spending cuts from going into effect, Fuller warned last year, the Washington area was headed for a "devastating recession." Some 450,000 jobs, many of them in the private sector, would be wiped out in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.
"It's something you don't even want to draw a picture of because it's too scary," he said in a radio interview last summer. In January he described the sequester's impact on the national capital region as an "end-of-the-world kind of hit."
But the world hasn't ended. Not even in Washington.
In the months since President Obama signed the order to cut federal outlays by $85 billion, the Washington Post reported last week, the region has added 40,000 jobs. "Income-tax receipts have surged in Virginia, beating expectations. Few government contractors have laid off workers." There is no sign of the economic hellfire and brimstone foretold by Fuller, who says it's a "surprise" to him that Washington's economy is still booming. "We've done better than I expected," he confessed.
The real surprise is that anyone is still surprised by the affluence of the Washington area.
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