The San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce is the largest business organization in the eastern part of San Diego County. We have grown to over 850 member companies, employing approximately 15,000 hard working East County residents.
After the issue of Sequestration was vetted in our Government Affairs Committee, the Board of Directors of this Chamber of Commerce has voted to take a strong position of OPPOSITION to Congress’ impending Sequestration of Defense Department funding. Sequestration would have a highly negative impact on the regional economy of San Diego County and all of California.
Locally, active duty and retired members of the uniformed military services, combined with defense contractors, comprise roughly 28 percent of the gross regional economy. One in every four pay checks in our region is a part of the military-defense complex.
The proposed draconian cuts would have a horrendous impact on hard-working families on limited government incomes, defense contracting businesses endeavoring to survive this challenging economy, and the myriad businesses that provide goods and services to these families. A recent report by the Center for Security Policy states that if Sequestration goes into effect, and the defense budget is slashed by an additional $600 billion over a ten-year year period, California could lose 125,789 jobs and see a $10.79 billion decrease in Gross State Product (GSP).
Additionally, San Diego stands to lose between $1.1 billion and $2.2 billion in annual revenue from 2013 to 2021. This is all due to the Budget Control Act (BCA), the controversial August 2011 “deal gone bad,” by which Congress and the President agreed to raise America’s debt limit.
The BCA placed ceilings to cap the defense budget and other forms of discretionary spending totaling more than $500 billion over 10 years. Unless Congress and the President change current law, sequestration cuts to national defense will go into effect in just seven months, on January 2, 2013.
The stakes couldn’t be higher for the Defense Department or the economy of our region and state. Some have said that this is a partisan issue, but nothing could be further from the truth. While this is an election year, taking the “safe” route and following an alleged party line would be a tragic disservice to all of us. Widespread bipartisan opposition to Sequestration is building.
Leaders on both sides of the aisle, and in the President’s Cabinet, have made clear statements opposing the unilateral enactment of this ill-advised measure. Among them, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has been clear in his opposition.
Among several of published comments against Sequestration, the Secretary has stated: “Having served in the Congress and having worked on budget issues most of the time I was in Congress, I’m very concerned that the Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, have to show leadership here, and can’t just allow Sequestration to take effect.”
It goes further and wider. Daniel Werfel, controller, Office of Management and Budget stated that “The President has made clear that Congress can and should act to avoid the Sequester.” Congressman Randy Forbes (R-VA), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness has stated that “this strategy is not the strategy of a superpower, this is a menu for mediocrity.”
And Congressman Norm Dicks (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense has written "You'd have a major, major cut in defense if the Budget Control Act’s sequestration mechanism is activated — it's unacceptable.”
The United States Senate and House of Representatives simply need to do what is right for our country and best for our region. Congress needs to put the brakes on Sequestration and readdress the issues the “Super Committee” avoided last summer. On behalf of the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce and the constituents with whom our 850 member companies do business, we have urged our Congressional delegation to take action to halt Sequestration.
We have written directly to U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and Members of Congress Duncan Hunter, Susan Davis, Bob Filner, Brian Bilbray and Darrell Issa. We urge you to do the same, either with a letter or via email directly to their web sites. Sequestration needs to be stopped now.