Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Budget Deadlock Creates Anger at Crucial Navy Shipyard

Today Barack Obama will visit Newport News Shipbuilding in nearby Newport News, Virginia.  This shipyard is crucial to the Navy since it is the only yard that can build atomic powered carriers.  It is crucial to Virginia because it is the state's largest single employer.  And it is about to get severely slammed by the sequestration that begins at week end.  The irony is that GOP Congressman Scott Rigell - one of the GOP extremists pushing the nation towards sequestration - will accompany Obama (as will Bobby Scott).  Both the boyfriend and I have family members who work at Newport News Shipbuilding and who may financial harm as a result of the sequestration cuts.  The other irony is that back in the lead up to the November 2012 elections, many of the less expensive homes in the area of Newport News near the shipyard had Romney and Rigell signs (the expensive homes had Obama signs).  Would that these cretins who supported Romney and Rigell could be the first workers laid off and furloughed.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at the growing distress and anger at the shipyard.  Here are highlights which underscore that the GOP doesn't give a tinker's damn about everyday Americans:

As President Obama returned from a Florida golfing trip and Congress was on a Presidents’ Day break last week, Tommy Bassett, a nuclear machinist, was applying for a backup job at Lowe’s.

The carrier USS Abraham Lincoln was supposed to arrive at the massive shipyard here on Valentine’s Day for a multibillion-dollar overhaul that would take years and provide Bassett and some of the other 21,000 shipyard employees with steady work. But the budget deadlock in Washington prompted the Navy to delay the project. For how long, no one seems to know. Whether layoffs are coming — no one seems to know that, either.

Bassett is too anxious to wait to find out. His wife is having their first child in April, and she had to stop working for medical reasons. “If the budget doesn’t come in, they don’t have money for us,” Bassett said. “I haven’t told her yet . . . I didn’t want her to worry.”

Residents are bitter and resentful. It’s difficult to have a conversation without getting an earful of expletives. And there is little patience here for serving as political props in Washington’s latest budget drama.

Newport News sits at the heart of Hampton Roads, a region whose economy and identity are based largely on the tens of thousands of military personnel, contractors and veterans who live and work here. SEAL Team 6 is based in the region. Jets from Naval Air Station Oceana regularly buzz along the Virginia Beach coast.

Newport News is where the Navy makes aircraft carriers and submarines, and this city of 180,000 feels like a company town, where generations of families have found good-paying jobs making something lasting.  Many fear that prideful past and the community it helped build will fall victim to Washington-style pettiness and irresponsibility.

Executives from defense behemoth Huntington Ingalls Industries, which runs Newport News Shipbuilding, say they are disappointed by the delays in the massive, carefully staged Lincoln overhaul project, which will end up costing taxpayers even more later. Other contractors in Hampton Roads have already warned of major potential layoffs.

“The way you keep costs down is to have predictability and continuity — the exact opposite of what we have right now,” said Newport News City Manager Neil Morgan, who keeps close tabs on operations at the shipyard, the city’s “powerhouse employer.”

Johnson wants Obama to come to Hampton Roads and take it straight to his colleagues at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.  “I put it on Congress, I don’t put it on him,” Johnson said. “They’re messing with the military, and I don’t appreciate it. They’re messing with me. He needs to let people know that when he gets down here.”

Yes, many need to get the message that they were played as fools by Republicans in the last election and the now so prevalent racism and religious extremism of the GOP was used  to convince people to foolishly vote against their own best interests.  Many may well be about to pay the price for their foolishness and bigotries and prejudices.


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