Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Thousands of Lost Jobs: The Cost of Sequestration

Barack Obama appeared today at Newport News Shipbuilding and made a strong case locally for demanding that the Congressional Republicans stop playing games with the lives of thousands  - if not millions nationwide - of American families.  Also in the cross hairs of the GOP saboteurs is the nation's military.  Yes, the GOP blathers about "supporting our troops" even as they have sent our service members to their deaths and serious injury in needless wars that were paid for on the equivalent of a credit card.  Now, defense spending will be cut in a meat cleaver manner as opposed to a surgeon's scalpel.  How anyone in the military or the defense industry still believes a word coming out of the GOP noise machine is dumbfounding.  The Virginian Pilot looks at the local impact of the GOP effort to destroy the economy and leave thousands of Americans unemployed.   Here are highlights:

Thousands of blue-collar jobs will be lost if federal lawmakers don't strike a deal by the end if the week to avoid sweeping budget cuts, President Barack Obama told a crowd of about 3,000 shipyard workers this afternoon.

Standing in front of a massive propeller in a cavernous facility used to build submarines, Obama called on Congress to compromise or risk harming the economy in Hampton Roads.

"The main reason I'm here is to call attention to the important work that you’re doing on behalf of the nation’s defense, and to let the American people know that this work, along with hundreds of thousands of jobs, are currently in jeopardy because of politics in Washington," Obama said.

"These cuts are wrong. They're not smart, they're not fair. They're a self-inflicted wound that doesn't have to happen," Obama added at a shipbuilding site in Virginia.

The White House has warned the $85 billion in cuts could affect everything from commercial flights to classrooms to meat inspections. The cuts would slash domestic and defense spending, leading to forced unpaid days off for hundreds of thousands of workers.

At Newport News Shipbuilding, Virginia's largest industrial employer, Obama renewed his effort to warn of the dire consequences the cuts could have on military readiness and local economies. He spoke in front of a massive submarine propeller, with workmen and the few female employees watching up from the cavernous assembly floor and down along railings from three open levels above.

"The threat of these cuts has already forced the Navy to cancel the deployment and delay the repair of certain aircraft carriers," Obama said.

Mike Petters , president and CEO of factory parent company Huntington Ingalls, said in an interview that the company will probably "throttle back" plans to hire between 10,000 and 15,000 workers over the next five years because of the budget uncertainty. He said his biggest headache in running the business is the continuing resolution.

Echoing Obama's warnings about the military repercussion were the five members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who traveled to Capitol Hill to say the cuts could impart a serious blow to military readiness. Their appearance marked the fourth time in the last three weeks that top Pentagon leaders have testified before Congress about the cuts.

Yes, you read that right - 10-15,000 workers at Newport News Shipbuilding alone.  Not surprisingly, GOP extremist Congressman Scott Rigell opted to accompany Obama since he likely knows that if sequestration happens and is rightfully blamed on the GOP, he may well not be re-elected in 2014. 

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