The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
SEQUESTRATION CUTS ALREADY TAKING TOLL
BY KATIE THISDELL
Area business leaders told Republican U.S. Senate candidate George Allen that automatic federal cuts aren’t just a threat in January—they’re already feeling the dire effects.
During a roundtable discussion in North Stafford on Monday afternoon focused on the defense industry, Allen met with about 20 people to see how the defense cuts under sequestration are already evident in businesses of all sizes.
“It’s dangerous in a variety of ways in that it weakens our military readiness,” Allen said at the campaign event at Hilldrup Moving and Storage just south of Quantico.
The nearly $500 billion in defense reductions could take effect under sequestration unless Congress acts to halt the across-the-board cuts. The plan could cost Virginia 200,000 jobs. The sequestration deal was set when lawmakers couldn’t agree on a budget and the country was near defaulting on its debts.
Locally, small-business representatives said some of those decisions for cutting jobs could come in the next month or so.
“What we’re seeing here is the larger prime contractors start to circle their own wagons and start to cut their subcontractors,” said Scott Hirons, a member of the Stafford County Planning Commission who works at a 15-employee software company in Stafford.
He says Capriccio Software had hired a handful of people for contracts, but now those positions are at risk, along with many more.
It’s tough dealing with the potential impact of sequestration, which “may or may not happen,” Hirons said.
Allen, describing the military as the country’s paramount responsibility, said a strong national defense would lead to a strong economy.
Raising taxes does not create jobs, he said.
Allen a former Virginia governor, is in a tight race against another former governor, Democrat Tim Kaine. The Nov. 6 election could determine which party controls the Senate.
“I’m not one that likes the simplistic, lazy approach to just cut 5 percent across the board,” Allen said. “I believe these disproportionate cuts need to be stopped.”
Stafford Economic Development Authority member Wendy Maurer said the indecision about sequestration and the budget is wasting millions of dollars in a “Chicken Little routine—is the sky going to fall, is it not going to fall?”
“It’s having a devastating effect now,” Maurer said.
Allen also advocated for job creation through proposals such as allowing offshore drilling in Virginia waters, and using royalties for transportation and infrastructure.
Asked by a reporter if there is any room for defense cuts, Allen said reductions are already being made and sequestration is not the way to go.
“I do think the military ought to be using advancements and technology,” Allen said. “We do need modernizing in many respects.”
Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975