The Hill reports:
Republican congressional leaders accused President Obama of holding defense and domestic spending “hostage” in order to raise taxes, attacking the White House for not proposing a solution to the sequestration cuts set to hit in January.
In a letter to Obama Friday, the top House and Senate Republican leaders said the White House was ignoring the threat of sequestration, calling on the president to work with Congress to find a solution to the $500 billion cuts each to defense and non-defense spending.
The letter from Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) was the latest Republican effort to blame Obama for the looming cuts.
Are Obama and Democrats holding defense and domestic spending hostage in order to raise taxes?
According to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, (D-NV), the answer is yes.
The Senate's Democratic leader insisted on Thursday that if House Republicans desperately want to avert automatic cuts to the military, they have to compromise and make tax increases part of any solution.
Back to The Hill piece:
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney attacked Obama for the cuts to defense Friday as he made a campaign stop in Virginia, a military-heavy state.
Over to Mitt Romney with an " Open Letter To President Obama Ahead Of Virginia Visit."
Welcome to Virginia, Mr. President! Home of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, the fighters at Langley AFB, the storied Marine Base at Quantico, tens of thousands of veterans from the Battle of Guadalcanal to the Battle of Fallujah, and countless other proud military units, factories, and bases, the Commonwealth is a proud state with a proud history.
Unfortunately, the defense cuts you signed into law will hit Virginians hard. Your insistence on slashing our military to pay the tab for your irresponsible spending could see over 200,000 troops forced from service. It will shut the doors on factories and shipyards that support our warfighters, take a heavy toll on the guard and reserves, and potentially shutter Virginia military bases. It will shrink our Navy below a level that is already not adequate for protecting our national security. Mr. President, our troops, military families, and veterans want to know why defense is the only part of the federal budget you are willing to cut. They deserve better.
Under your administration, the backlog for wounded warriors receiving their disability has nearly doubled, and unemployment among young returning veterans is in double digits. The effect of forcing 200,000 additional service members out of uniform and into a faltering economy, sending them from the front lines to the unemployment lines, will overwhelm overburdened state offices like the Virginia Department of Veterans Services. It will impose suffering and hardship on so many military families.
Every service member, veteran, and military family member in Virginia and the nation will be touched by your defense cuts. So will Virginia’s businesses and industry, large and small alike. From 2001-2010, over 14,000 Virginia businesses provided goods and services for our national defense. Unfortunately, the huge economic impact of these looming cuts is not the end of it.
Your own Secretary of Defense has said that they will be “devastating” to our national security, the same as “shooting ourselves in the head.” But when Congress presented you a way out of this mess, a mess of your own making, you threatened to veto their bill. And the reason you gave, Mr. President, is that you would not stop devastating cuts to our national security unless Congress agreed to raise our taxes.
I will use my authority as Commander-in-Chief to protect the troops, not veto efforts to protect them. I will never allow our national security to be held hostage to extract political concessions. The ultimate responsibility for securing our national defense rests with the President. I will work to solve our security problems, not spend my time shifting blame.
Virginians know that change is coming, Mr. President. In November, they will make it happen. That is what this election is about.
Excerpted comments from Congressman from Virginia Randy Forbes, U.S. Senator from Missouri Jim Talent and former U.S. Navy Secretary John Lehman, on a 24 minute conference call held yesterday, shown below: (Full audio will be shown beneath the excerpts)
"The context of this is that in the last year the President signed and supported cuts in the defense budget of close to a trillion dollars that his own Secretary of Defense has said—we’re talking about Leon Panetta, here—are devastating to the military and equivalent to shooting ourselves in the head.
This was done with no strategic analysis of the needs of national security and no plan for how to implement the cuts. Even now we don’t know the details of how the cuts are going to be implemented.
We do know that they’re planning to cut 200,000 troops. Given the state of the economy, it’s equivalent to laying them off and the military is sending them to the unemployment lines.
These are the men and women who have defended this country and, again, with no analysis that the needs of national security allow for this or call for this, and at a time when Iran is making progress towards a nuclear weapon, Syria is in the middle of a civil war, Chinese power is surging, we have men and women fighting and putting their lives at risk in the field in Afghanistan.
So in all my years in and around Washington, it’s the most irresponsible thing a Commander-in-Chief has done."
Representative Randy Forbes:
"So if you look at it from an economic point of view, this is something that is going to have an enormous, devastating blow on Virginia, especially in northern Virginia and in the Hampton Roads area.
Final thing, Senator, as you know, this not just about individuals in the military, although 200,000 or so of them are going to get these pink slips. It’s not just about defense contractors, which is going to be huge for them because these pink slips are going to start going out in October from a lot of these defense contractors. But it also is going to have a huge impact on beauty salons, restaurants, car dealers, the entire economy as you have this unstable situation that’s there. That’s why we’re hoping in November we’re going to get a Commander-in-Chief that’s going to say ‘we’re going to stop this from taking place."
Somebody’s got to bring some common sense because the damage, the long-term damage to the service’s readiness, to the business base, to the employment is just going to be devastating.