Special to the Journal
MACON, GA – Today, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02) joined Senator Saxby Chambliss, Senator Johnny Isakson, Congressman Austin Scott, Major General Rick Goddard, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce in discussing the impact of the defense sequester on the greater Macon, Bibb county, and Warner Robins communities. After meeting with Robins Air Force Base leadership, a public forum was held in Middle Georgia Technical College in Warner Robins to discuss the potential impact of sequestration on the greater metro area. Today’s discussion continues Congressman Bishop’s public dialogue on sequester. Two weeks ago, Congressman Bishop joined his Senate colleagues at similar forums with Fort Benning leadership in Columbus, the Marine Corps Logistics Base leadership in Albany, and the Georgia National Guard.
The threat of a pending defense sequester comes after the failure of last year’s Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, or “The Supercommittee”, to enact a deficit reduction plan for $1.2 trillion over the next ten years. The threat of mutually disagreeable cuts to both defense and non-defense programs was designed to keep both Republicans and Democrats at the negotiating table to reach a compromise agreement.
“The sequester was intended to be a sword—a warning hanging over the heads of Congress to ensure that they work in a bipartisan manner to enact a deficit reduction plan,” said Congressman Bishop. “It is an unwise and destructive policy whose potential impact on Southwest Georgia could be significant, causing a ripple effect throughout the local economy, leading to greater unemployment and reduced profits for local businesses.”
If no compromise is reached, sequestration will be scheduled to take effect on January 2, 2013. For Fiscal Year 2013 alone, a $109 billion cut in discretionary spending will be required of the national budget. While cuts to defense programs would be devastating, only half of the total cuts would come from the defense industry; Head Start, nutrition assistance, Title I grants to local educational agencies, medical research at the National Institutes of Health, job training and employment services for veterans through the U.S. Department of Labor, food safety and workplace safety inspections, border enforcement, and our National Park System are among the numerous non-defense programs to be impacted by sequestration.
According to a recent report by the National Association of Manufacturers, defense cuts resulting from sequester would destroy one million jobs by 2014, of which 38,700 would be in Georgia. While defense and non-defense industries will share responsibility with eventual budget cuts from the Budget Control Act, veterans, military families, defense contractors, teachers, police officers, and many others will feel the uncomfortable edge of program cuts if no agreement is reached to prevent sequestration well before January 2, 2013.
“There is still time for Congress to come together and hammer out a balanced, bipartisan agreement that will prevent sequestration, reduce the deficit, strengthen our nation’s military, and grow the economy for the future,” continued Congressman Bishop. “In order to do so, we have to put our country first and resist partisanship. Macon, Bibb County, Warner Robins, the State of Georgia, and the entire nation are looking to us to do the right thing.”