Industry, Labor, and Small Businesses to Schieffer: Include Sequestration in Presidential Debate

Arlington, Va. – The Aerospace and Defense Industry and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace workers joined together today to call on debate moderator Bob Schieffer to include the issue of sequestration budget cuts in Monday's presidential debate.

“Sequestration would be a disaster for our national security,” AIA President Marion Blakey and IAMAW International President Tom Buffenbarger explained.  “It’s not simply a question of troop cuts or military procurement. Those lost jobs would come from the ranks of highly skilled and experienced machinists and aerospace workers who represent a strategic national asset – a key component of America’s high tech military infrastructure that has been built up over decades of R&D investment and training on the job.”

Observing that the subject had received “scant attention” during previous debates despite its substantial impact on the economy and jobs, Blakey and Buffenbarger pointed out that the upcoming foreign policy/national security debate “provides the ideal forum to address this pressing crisis.”

“If we shutter plants and cut loose these workers, we’ll have lost something priceless that could take decades to replace,” they said.  “There is simply no responsible way to debate issues like Iranian nuclear ambitions and the rise of China – both topics you have identified as open for discussion – without also assessing the military capabilities available to American policymakers in time of crisis. Because the reach and reliability of those capabilities depends on how the sequestration crisis is resolved, Americans must hear from the candidates how they would tackle this rapidly approaching danger.”

This call was echoed by small business leaders whose companies are likely to bear the brunt of sequestration driven job losses, up to half the total jobs destroyed according to a recent study:

“Both candidates say [sequestration] would be a bad idea, but neither has been pushed in the previous debates to explain what they would do to fix the problem.   Solving sequestration will take some tough choices and real compromise – something that’s been in short supply in Washington these days.  Please get these candidates on record explaining what they would do to get this issue resolved.”

“These cuts would be a disaster for our national security – “devastating” in Defense Secretary Panetta’s words.  Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey says it would be “the definition of a hollow force.”  Senators McCain and Graham say it would “set off a swift decline of the United States as the world’s leading military power. . . .  The cuts would also be haymaker to our recovering economy, something that would threaten our global standing and that is fundamental to foreign policy issues like global trade and our relationship with China. . . .  What issue could be more central to a debate on America’s place in the world?”

Copies of the letters are available here: AIA/IAMAW letter and Small Business letter.

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