$500 billion in cuts to Pentagon from “Sequestration” comes under fire

Posted at 12:01 AM, May 15, 2012
and last updated 2012-05-15 00:01:31-04

“The politicians that cut budgets, they say we don't need military anymore because the war's over--wrong answer,” said one Marine Veteran.

“Dumping 200,000 Veterans in an economy with no employment, not the way to treat these modern patriots,” said another Navy Veteran.

They are just two of the thousands of Hampton Roads residents dead set against sequestration.

Last year in the epic battle over raising the nation's debt ceiling, Congress came up with a compromise--cut $1.2 trillion to make up for the increase in the debt.

No one planned on the failure of the bipartisan “Super Committee” tasked with forging a deal, which triggered automatic reductions in spending.

That means $500 billion cut out of the Defense department budget, starting in just seven months.

“One percent of this country defend and protect the rest of us. They stand up for us every day, and it's time we start standing up for them,” said Congressman Randy Forbes.

Forbes hosted Monday's forum titled “Defending our Defenders—appearing with Congressman Scott Rigell and Congressman Rob Wittman.

Forbes called the forum a way to start a dialogue about the impact of sequestration, something he says was being ignored in Washington.

According to local military and economic experts, sequestration's true effects would include a reduction in the Navy's fleet, cuts to aircraft and weapons programs and 200,000 active duty military members given the pink slip.

With the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in DOD spending at local shipyards and airfields, 15% of Virginia's jobs will disappear-- enough to drive the economy into a recession in 2013.

With so much at stake, NewsChannel 3 had to ask--why just talk, and no action yet in actually forging a deal?  What is being done to make sure discussions are going on and compromise will prevail?

“Look around. Something is being done. The first step is getting the facts out and having this debate,” said Rep. Forbes. “We are going to take all the transcripts back to Washington, and say ‘Guys, look at what the American people are saying. We've got to do something about this.’”

If both Democrats and Republicans do manage to get to the table, we wanted to make sure our local lawmakers take action to stop these cuts, so we asked if they are all willing to work toward a compromise with those on the other side of the aisle to stop sequestration.

“I am passionate and went to Washington to find what I call common ground, and I am convinced it’s there,” said Rep. Rigell.

“I am willing to see what they present so we can have a conversation about the needs of the nation,” said Rep. Wittman.

“How it ends up, it’s got to be compromise. Got to stop sitting down and start standing up, that’s what we're trying to do,” said Forbes.

There will be at least a dozen more “Defending our Defenders” sessions like this around the country. Forbes hopes to have this come up before the House and Senate before the election to make sure its dealt with before sequestration goes into effect in January of 2013.