Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner talk about sequestration and budget issues in Reston
RESTON, Va. (WUSA) -- Virginia's U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine spoke at an event hosted by the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) in Reston on Friday and discussed the budget and debt negotiations.
WUSA 9's Peggy Fox reported that Sen. Warner told the crowd that sequestration will hurt taxpayers a lot more than people realize, and Sen. Kaine said, "We Democrats need to show we are serious about cutting the budget." He suggested starting with a year's worth of reduction.
Senator Warner put some of the blame on the defense industry for being absent on sequestration. "We have muffed this thing four times and shame on the Defense Industry for being absent in the discussion," stated Warner.
Warner told the NVTC crowd that the public needs to hold lawmakers responsible. "You should fire us all if we don't get this done. We'll stay in this cesspool if we don't fix the budget," said Warner.
"Sequestration: worse than you can imagine" was Senator Mark Warner's headline as he spoke Friday. The Senator, who has worked on debt reduction plans Congress failed to passes time and time again, is angry.
He told the NVCT that Congress deserves most of the blame for the debt crisis... but so do they.
"You ought to take some of the blame." He said that every time Congress would look for a broad coalition of people who would press for a compromise, people would jump in their foxholes, "afraid to piss off that chairman or that guy."
Among a long list of CEOs who are listed on FixTheDebt.org council of business leaders, missing are most defense contractors.
At the midsize federal contractor Invertix, Chief Strategy Officer Craig Parisot said he heard Warner's speech as a call to action to pressure congress to stop sequestration by coming up with a real budget with necessary cuts and taxes. Parisot said if there are going to be cuts, it's much better to know so they can make plans around them. With the uncertainly, Parisot said, it's difficult to expand.
That uncertainly is paralyzing the growth of the economy said Senator Warner. He said the economy is ready to take off, if Congress would only do its job and make some real decisions.
Senator Tim Kaine is advocating, along with Sen. Warner, to just eliminate sequestration and go back to the ordinary budget process.
Warner said it's not going to happen without entitlement reform, cuts, and more revenue. He said the last tax increase on the wealthy will pull in only $600 billion and that $2.3 trillion is necessary.
Warner says those who think it's OK to let sequestration happen just don't understand the severe consequences. If it does happen, he's hoping to be able to allow government managers to move money where it's needed.
Warner explained that government purchases are done in bulk, or far in advance. By law, the government gets a 10% discount on those purchases. If agencies are forced to cancel those contracts, the cost of purchasing will go up and in the end cost taxpayers more money.
Warner says kicking the can down the road, will only cost taxpayers more because long term contracts will have to be broken.
"There is a stupid way to do this, lets chose the less stupid way."
Here is a response from Northrop Grumman:
"Our nation needs a balanced, strategic approach to its fiscal challenges. Indiscriminate budget cutting of sequestration is not the answer," said Wes Bush, Northrop Grumman chairman, chief executive officer and president. "We urge Congress and the Administration to work to together on a solution to avoid sequestration's devastating impacts on the nation's security, economy, all aspects of the federal government, as well as research and education that drives innovation in our country."
And here's a response from Lockheed Martin:
"We have always been clear and remain vocal on our position regarding sequestration. The automatic across-the-board cuts threaten to weaken virtually all government programs and operations, damage our national security, and adversely affect our industry. Until sequestration is permanently eliminated, there will be an overhang on our industry that stifles investment in plants, equipment, people, and future research and development essential to the future health of our industry. We will continue to work with our government leaders to find a more effective solution to our nation's fiscal challenges."