GOP roadshow: Senators pound on need to stave off defense cuts
Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte are holding town-hall meetings to generate awareness about looming defense cuts. On Monday, they stopped in the military center of Norfolk, Va.
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Senator Warner has been a tireless advocate for a large, bipartisan solution to America’s debt problems. Plans proffered by Warner-led groups have outlined as much as $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade, a level of fiscal responsibility that would more than alleviate the need for the sequester.Skip to next paragraph
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Likewise, Senator Nelson sent a letter to the Republican group stating his support for their aims.
“You can count on my bipartisan cooperation,” he concluded in the letter.
If bipartisan negotiations come to pass, McCain, Graham, and Ayotte are set to advocate a one-year fix to be agreed upon before November’s elections, thereby allowing the new Congress to settle the issue in 2013. And if negotiations begin, it is this core of Republican senators who will probably form the bulwark of support on the right for a deal.
Graham has argued that heading off the sequester could be done in the same way that the president’s commission on debt, known as Bowles-Simpson after its authors, proposed fixing America’s long-term debt situation: about $1 in higher tax revenue for every $3 in spending reductions.
Such an approach cuts directly against Republican orthodoxy embodied in the vaunted Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which north of 90 percent of congressional Republicans have signed in a promise to never raise taxes.
“I know it’s uncomfortable for Republicans to talk about revenues the way I’m talking about it, and I know some Democrats get nervous about cutting some social programs. But you know what, on our worst day, this is nothing compared to what our men and women are doing,” Graham said. “How many battles have we fought?
It’s vital to make a deal before the elections, the group argued, because once the cuts take shape, the strain they put on businesses will be irreversible.
The main problem?
“Long story short, we’re miles apart right now,” Graham said. “Somebody’s got to break this gridlock; and if we don’t get this right, all hell is going to break out throughout our defense community.”
What that might look like stared the trio in the face on Monday evening.
“Sequestration infuriates me,” said Mark Stet, a retired Navy officer from Virginia Beach, during his time to question the senators. “Why it infuriates me is because my son died in Pakistan.”
Staff Sgt. Mark Stet Jr. was killed in Pakistan’s restive North West Frontier Province by an improvised explosive device Feb. 3, 2010, according to a release from the Department of Defense.
Mr. Stet argued that a Congress that allows sharply reduced defense spending would be putting more of America’s service members at risk – and that the onus is on both sides to stand up and get a deal immediately.
“My son didn’t die for the crap that you people are doing in D.C.,” he said. “Do you understand me?”