Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, in his State of the City address earlier this year, promised to work to protect the thousands of local and regional jobs here based in the national defense and aerospace industries.
On Monday, Stanton went to Washington, D.C. to emphasize to federal legislators the impact automatic defense budgets cuts will have on local jobs and, indeed, the entire country, according to an article published on AZCaptiolTimes.com.
Stanton can’t stop the automatic budget cuts–known as budget sequestration– from happening.
The sequestration process is the direct result of the Congressional standoff that occurred last fall over raising the debt ceiling. Not raising the debt ceiling would have caused the nation go to into sovereign default.
But when Congress failed to agree on exactly how to pay for the $1.2 trillion in long-term budget reductions needed to balance the budget (it specifically disagreed on where, exactly, in the federal budget those reductions would come from), a kind of legislative contingency plan kicked into action.
The legislation that allowed the debt ceiling to be raised (formally the Budget Control Act of 2011) mandated automatic cuts in the 2013 budget, split equally between defense spending and domestic programs.
Meant to be an incentive for congressional agreement, the mandated cuts ostensibly allow the federal budget to be balanced despite partisan bickering over which pots of national money the cuts should come from.
According to an article from AirForceTimes published online, the cuts would start Jan. 2 and total $109 billion in reduced spending with approximately $55 billion of those cuts coming from the defense budget.
Stanton reportedly said that the defense portion of the budget cuts would have a “devastating impact on the local economy.”
Arizona leads the country in both defense and aerospace contracts, Stanon reportedly explained, being one of the top five in the country for the former and in the top 10 of the nation in the latter.
The mayor also reportedly stressed that “these are the highest-wage jobs in one of our core industries, the aerospace industry.”
Frustratingly for many Arizonans, the mere threat of sequester cuts has caused a chilling effect on investors in the defense and aerospace industry.
“The impact of the sequester isn’t going to wait to January 2013 when these automatic cuts kick in. It’s being felt by people now,” Stanton reportedly said.
In a prepared statement released Monday, The White House Office of Management and Budget said “the sequester is, by design, bad policy. Congress should do its job and pass a balanced plan for deficit reduction.”
While Stanton was making his stand on the region’s behalf, the House Budget Committee was passing a plan that would reverse $8 billion of defense spending cuts that were made last fall and would exclude veteran health and benefit programs from the sequestration program cuts.
That bill, however, is not expected to be taken up by the Senate prior to the November election.