In an op-ed published in The Wichita Eagle, IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger, along with Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) President and CEO Marion C. Blakey, called on Congress to pull the plug on pending defense budget cuts.
The cuts, known as sequestration, threaten to put one million Americans out of work, shut down U.S. defense production lines and handicap our military.
“Sequestration will shut down virtually every major modernization program – from stealth fighters to intelligence satellites to ships the Navy has been waiting on for years,” wrote Buffenbarger and Blakey, warning that a stoppage would allow countries like China, Russia, North Korea and Iran to advance their own technologies in those areas, putting our national security at high risk. “These cuts will leave our aerial and naval fleets smaller and older than any we’ve fielded since World War II, and our military dependent on aircraft designed and in some cases built three, four, even five decades ago. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the cuts would generate ‘unacceptable risk’ to our combat troops; his deputy called it ‘assisted suicide’ for our military.”
“Equally troubling, according to a study by economist Stephen Fuller, sequestration would destroy more than 350,000 aerospace jobs, with an additional loss of 654,000 jobs that our industry supports in communities and towns across the nation,” wrote the authors. “Even worse, cuts to research and development programs in aerospace and defense would hamstring one of the most effective ways the federal government stimulates the creation of new jobs.”
Sens. Kelly Ayote (R-NH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) have called for a bipartisan agreement to delay sequestration for one year while Congress works on a larger, long-term budget plan. Congress must act before the end of the year to avoid the automatic cuts set to begin in 2013.
For more on Buffenbarger and Blakey’s op-ed, click here.