Sen. Jack Reed, Fmr. Va. Congressman Nye Respond on Sequestration
Truman Project, Sen. Jack Reed and Former Va. Congressman Glenn Nye Respond to Sens. McCain, Graham and Ayotte Sequestration Townhall Tour
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators McCain and Graham are currently conducting a sequestration town hall tour in several battleground states in an attempt to turn the debate about budget cuts into substantive fears about job loss and national security weakness.
Today, on a Truman Project conference call, Truman Project Senior Adviser Mark Jacobson joined Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and Fmr. Congressman Glenn Nye (Va.) to discuss the need for a bipartisan approach to preserving our military capabilities and avoid tackling the deficit solely on the backs of the middleclass.
On the call, Former Deputy NATO Civilian Representative in Kabul, and Navy intelligence veteran Mark Jacobson said, “There are certainly bipartisan ways that we can solve this problem but sequestration is the least responsible way to deal with our budget dilemmas. The Obama Administration has laid out a specific plan to avoid defense cuts and reduce the deficit significantly but Republicans on the Hill simply refuse to consider fiscal responsibility as part of our national security challenges. It is true that election year politics make this more difficult, but we are talking about a fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans over a sound way to bring down the deficit in a balanced manner that can help preserve our national security. This is not a matter of choosing between security and being fiscally responsible. We went through a period of ten years of massive military spending increases due to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and I don’t think that anyone in their right mind would argue that that level is sustainable over the long term. It is time to adjust our strategy to focus on new threats and this is what the Administration is doing – shifting to more agile approaches, replacing outdated weapons systems, and rebalancing towards future challenges.”
Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) echoed what Jacobson said adding that “Sequestration is not the most subtle or effective way to deal with the problems we are faced with and there is no one I believe on both sides of the aisle who are looking forward to sequestration. But let’s look back and remember how we got here. It is a three act play scripted by the Republicans. The first act was to threaten default on national debt unless significant offsetting cuts were made. The second act was the Supercommittee but by all reports, there was no real revenue put on the table by the Republicans. And now we are in the third act which is sequestration and we have to avoid it. The impact on defense will be critical but there will also be a similar impact on discretionary domestic programs like education. So highlighting defense and saying it has to be shielded, misses the point. We have to come up with a responsible way to both continue to grow the economy while we deal with the deficit…After conducting two major worldwide conflicts without actually attempting to seriously pay for them…we are now in a very difficult deficit situation and what we need is a responsible, balanced approach. We need to look into every defense program that is not essential and then look down the road and make smart changes to other programs.”
Fmr. Congressman Glenn Nye (D-VA) suggested that Senators Graham and McCain could make better use of their time by working across party lines to avert defense program cuts instead of traveling across the country stirring up fear in military communities. He said, “Speaking from the perspective of someone who comes from a military community I am disappointed that Sens. McCain and Graham have chosen to travel to swing states to hold events that are really praying on the fears of our military communities rather than working in Washington to hammer out a bipartisan solution to the debt and solve the problem itself. I think that our military communities deserve more respect than just to be visited in an effort to whip up their fears…They ought to be focusing more on the solution than on the problem. If they spent more time convincing their “no tax pledge” colleagues in Washington to work with them to solve the problem we would be half way to avoiding the sequester anyway.”
The Truman National Security Project is the country’s only progressive national security leadership institute. For more information, visit www.trumanproject.org.