Unless Congress takes action, over the next few weeks US economy will be hit with harmful automatic cuts that threaten hundreds of thousands of middle class jobs. These cuts will slash vital services for children, seniors, people with mental illness and health care for US troops and military families.
President Obama strongly believes we need to replace these arbitrary cuts with balanced deficit reduction, and today he was at a shipyard in Newport News, VA to talk about what these cuts — which are known as the sequester — will mean for middle class families.
While the full damage of these cuts will spread to nearly every corner of US economy over the next few months, some workers will receive layoff or furlough notices within days.
Many of the 5,000 companies and small businesses from across the country that supply Newport News Shipbuilding with parts and equipment will be impacted, which will affect the firm’s productivity. And down the road at the Norfolk Naval Station, the threat of these cuts has already forced the Navy to cancel the deployment and delay the repair of certain aircraft carriers, and postpone building on additional vessels.
If the cuts are implemented, about 90,000 Virginians who work for the Department of Defense will be forced to take unpaid leave from their jobs, creating a ripple effect on thousands of other jobs, businesses, and services throughout the Commonwealth – and not just in the defense industry.
Speaking to the crowd today, President Obama called the cuts a “self-inflicted wound,” and he was clear that they can still be avoided:
I’ve laid out a plan that details how we can pay down our deficit in a way that’s balanced and responsible. We have the plan right on a website, the White House website. Everybody can go see it. It details exactly how we can cut programs that don’t work, how we can raise money by closing loopholes that are only serving a few, as opposed to the average American.
We detailed $930 billion in sensible spending cuts that we’re willing to make and $580 billion in wasteful tax loopholes and deductions that we’re willing to eliminate through tax reform.
And what I’ve said is if the Republicans in Congress don’t like every detail of my proposal, which I don’t expect them to, I’ve told them my door is open. I am more than willing to negotiate. I want to compromise. There’s no reason why we can’t come together and find a sensible way to reduce the deficit over the long term without affecting vital services, without hurting families, without impacting outstanding facilities like this one and our national defense. There’s a way of doing this.
The plan put forward by President and Congressional Democrats would avoid these cuts and allow time for both sides to work on a long-term, balanced solution to US deficit challenges.