Democrat Bill Owens continued to show his weakness on defense Thursday when he voted against a plan that would have avoided defense cuts that are certain to impact the 21st Congressional District. (Roll Call #577).
“My opponent first voted to cut defense spending by $500 billion, which the Obama administration said Friday would have a ‘devastating impact’ on our country,” said Matt Doheny, the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties’ candidate in the 21st Congressional District. “Now, he’s refusing to stand up for our soldiers, our schools and our civilian workforce and stop cuts that will lead to 113,000 lost jobs in New York.”
Owens voted for the Budget Control Act of 2011, which the Obama administration says will force irresponsible, “blunt and indiscriminate” cuts to both defense and non-defense spending. (Roll Call #690, 8/1/11)
The Office of Management and Budget says the 9.4 percent cut in discretionary defense funding – coupled with a 10 percent cut in mandatory defense programs – will “result in a reduction in readiness of many non-deployed units, delays in investments in new equipment and facilities, cutbacks in equipment repairs, declines in military research and development efforts and reductions in base services for military families.”
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said sequestration would result in “the smallest ground force since 1940, the smallest number of ships since 1915 and the smallest Air Force in its history.”
Frederick Vollrath, a senior Pentagon official, has testified that these forced cuts will cause 10 percent of the 800,000-strong civilian workforce in the Department of Defense to lose their jobs. Fort Drum, in both the old 23rd Congressional District and new 21st district, has 4,600 civilian workers. If similar cuts were made, 460 local jobs could be lost.
In addition, the Indian River School District stands to lose $1.38 million in federal impact aid due to sequestration. Carthage Central School would lose $605,730, according to the Center for American Progress.
Owens has also remained silent about the Labor Department’s “guidance” to federal contracts that encouraged them to hold off on giving layoff notices, in violation of federal labor law. Contractors, both local and regional, earned $392.7 million from contracts with Fort Drum alone in fiscal year 2011.
“My opponent said he was ‘confident’ that these irresponsible cuts would never go into effect,” said Doheny. “Yet since the deal was struck 13 months ago, he’s voted against repeated attempts to avoid these dangerous cuts. He may not be willing to stand up for our military, our schools and our civilian workers, but I am.”
Glenn Thrush, writer for the Politico, has recently produced an e-book on the Obama campaign, and it’s causing quite a stir. While many are focusing on the many conflicts the campaign is suffering this year – an issue with which they did not contend with as much in 2008 – there is another damning aspect of the book being vastly under-reported.
Essentially, the President was willing to place his reelection bid above the needs of our economy and our national defense.
Excerpts from the book claim that Obama rebuffed pleas from Nancy Pelosi of all people, to reconsider the sequestered defense cuts because doing so would make reelection more difficult.
Here are a couple of quotes from Thrush’s work that stand out:
“In mid-2012, the House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, requested a sit-down to ask Obama to reconsider the billions of defense cuts that would kick in automatically as part of the 2011 budget deal. The cuts included in ‘the sequester,’ she argued, would hurt Democratic House members with major defense contractors in their districts. They were asking for an alternative state of cuts, or any kind of plan that would keep local employers – and, by implication, local contributors – happy.”
“Obama told the former speaker what he had been saying for months – that he wasn’t budging on the defense cuts. Doing so would surrender his only leverage in forcing House Republicans to accept the expiration of tax cuts for the wealthy – the only weapon he had against their efforts ‘to delegitimize me,’ as he put it. Moreover, he bluntly called on Hill Democrats to reorient their priorities – from them to him. ‘Look, guys,’ he told Pelosi, Harry Reid, and several other congressional leaders, according to a person briefed in detail on the interaction. ‘I plan on winning this race. If I don’t win, then anything we say now doesn’t matter. I plan on winning this race. So let’s figure out how to win this race.’”
These are stunning claims that demonstrate a President willing to sacrifice the good of his own country, the good of the military men and women that he leads, for the good of his own political aspirations.