FOX 5 San Diego Staff
3:06 PM PDT, July 17, 2012
SAN DIEGO -- San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders spoke in the nation's capital Tuesday against possible automatic cuts in defense spending next year.
Sanders was joined by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., at a news conference inWashington, D.C., sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association.
The federal Budget Control Act of 2011 calls for the congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to agree on $1.5 trillion in spending cuts or revenue enhancements over the next decade. If committee members don't at least come close to that figure, then up to $1.2 trillion in automatic spending reductions, spread out through 2021, would go into effect Jan. 3.
The Pentagon's share of the cuts if committee members can't reach an agreement is $492 billion, through 2021.
Sanders said as that 225,000 California jobs could be lost if Congress lets the automatic cuts take effect.
"Sequestration simply lops off 10 percent," he said. "The cuts to national defense will obviously hurt San Diego. One out of four jobs in our region is tied to our role in the nation's defense. We have the largest concentration of military personnel of anywhere in the United States."
He said automatic cuts would also hurt trade flowing through the Port of San Diego, San Diego tourism and border protection. In addition, cuts in federal grants would harm research by the area's universities, life sciences industry and high-tech businesses.
"All of those things are extremely critical to San Diego,'' Sanders said. "When those grants stop coming, then that research stops and the job production stops.''
Sanders said San Diego was just beginning to recover from seven years of recession, but that progress could unravel if Congress doesn't act.
"We need to see this issue solved and we need to see it solved immediately, because once the confidence stops, our economy is going to go right back to where we were, and cities have nowhere to go but cut vital services to our communities
The trigger was the result of intense negotiations between both political parties and President Barack Obama. Between the cuts to defense and social programs, the idea was to give both Republicans and Democrats incentive to find ways to reign in annual deficits.
Organizers of this morning's event will release a report detailing what they call "staggering'' job losses in the United States if the cuts go through.
"This report shows that sequestration is not just a defense problem, it's an American problem,'' said AIA President and CEO Marion Blakey. "Unless our leaders in Washington take action, massive cuts have the potential to impact everyone from the defense worker to teachers, healthcare professionals, government employees and beyond.''
The San Diego Military Advisory Council estimated last month that about one-quarter of the jobs in the region rely in some way on defense spending. San Diego is raking in about $20 million in Pentagon cash this fiscal year, according to a council report. About $8 billion is spent on salaries for 140,000 military and civilian Defense Department employees.
Congress should not enact across-the-board spending reductions, but target the areas with the least impact on taxpayers, Sanders said.
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