Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hampton Roads Faces Economic Blow Due to GOP Obstruction

UPDATED: Per a new Virginian Pilot story, ship repair employees could be amoung the first to be laid off:

BAE Systems Ship Repair sent letters Wednesday to employees in Norfolk and four other states saying that they may have to lay off more than 3,500 people if the Navy cuts $4.6 billion in ship repairs and other expenses this year.  As many as 1,625 BAE workers in Norfolk could be laid off. The layoffs would affect skilled ship workers as well as administrative staff.

Who voted for sequestration? Virginia House of Representatives members who voted "YES" to SEQUESTRATION:
Rep. Scott Rigell (R)
Rep. Rob Wittman (R)
Rep. Robert Hurt (R)
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D)
Rep. Frank Wolf (R)
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R)

Somewhat belatedly people in Hampton Roads are beginning to wake up to the reality that the region is about to take a severe economic hit if, thanks to the GOP obstructionists and economic saboteurs in both houses of Congress allow sequestration to begin on March 1, 2013.  Senator Tim Kaine and Congressman Bobby Scott were in the region yesterday meeting with the military and major employers like Newport News Shipbuilding to address the likely impacts which will harm thousands of workers who face furloughs or worse.  When interviewed, the always despicable Scott Rigell - one of the three local GOP saboteurs in the House (the others are Randy Forbes and Rob Wittman) - Rigell sought to blame the impending economic harm on the U. S. Senate, conveniently omitting the fact that its due to his GOP cohorts Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell and other members of the GOP in the Senate that no solution to sequestration has been reached.  Like most GOP religious extremists, Rigell has no problem lying through his teeth on a constant basis.  Here are excerpts from the Virginian Pilot on the approaching economic harm:

With Congress in recess while two deadlines draw near for the start of major federal budget cuts, including deep defense reductions, two of Hampton Roads’ federal lawmakers were telling constituents Tuesday that significant consequences loom.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott warned constituents during a forum in Newport News that the automatic cuts that begin March 1 would hurt the region’s defense industry and lead to significant cuts in a range of federal services – from meat inspectors to special education programs to air traffic controllers.

Scott argued that new sources of revenue have to be found or Americans will receive fewer government services and the region’s defense-based economy is going to suffer.

The Navy has said it will have to cut $4.6 billion, including ship repair and construction projects, if the budget isn’t increased.

Leaders of the Virginia Ship Repair Association told Kaine on Tuesday that the cuts could result in thousands of layoffs in Hampton Roads and damage a local economy that relies on military spending for almost half its revenue.

Craig Quigley, executive director of the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance, told Kaine and the ship repair executives who met at a Portsmouth hotel that most residents don’t understand how hard the cuts will hit.  “When real people start getting pink slips in the not-too-distant future, then I think it will finally hit home,” Quigley said.

Scott noted there are several sources of new revenue that could be considered to avoid the cuts, including taxing capital gains and dividends as income, levying an extra tax on those with annual incomes larger than $1 million and getting rid of some tax breaks. Scott has long argued that people would rather support new revenue than cutting favored federal programs and national security.

“Everybody is talking about how bad sequestration is, but if you replace sequestration with $1.2 trillion in other cuts, you have different damage,” he said.  “You can’t cut $1.2 trillion of the budget without cutting Social Security and Medicare.”

One can only hope that as furloughs begin at Newport News Shipbuilding that the cretins who had  Romney and Rigell signs in their yards in neighborhoods near the shipyard are among the first to receive their pink slips (ironically, most of the higher end homes in these very same neighborhoods had Obama signs in their yards).  People need to be calling and e-mailing Messrs. Rigell, Forbes and Wittman and reading them the riot act.

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