President Barack Obama’s best chance of getting a divided Congress to act in an election year (“Obama Takes Congress to Task in SOTU Address,” Jan. 25) is to marshal the wide bipartisan support for halting the devastating defense budget cuts automatically triggered by sequestration — cuts that threaten our national security and our economy.
Totaling $500 billion, sequestration would end virtually every modernization program, according to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. For the foreseeable future, we’d have to make do with old bombers that date back to President Harry Truman’s administration, outdated fighter jets and fewer reconnaissance satellites to track terrorists. A weaker military will invite wars we should avoid and make bloodier those that we can’t.
The cuts would also throw a wet blanket over the furnace of military research and development that helped forged technologies such as GPS, jet propulsion and the Internet. Although the private sector depends on these quantum technological leaps, they require the kind of long, stable funding streams that only government can provide.
Independent economists also predict that the cuts would cost 1.5 million Americans their jobs. That’s about the entire population of Idaho.
With the sequestration ax set to fall within a year, Congress should quickly rescue our national security and our economy from the chopping block.
— Retired Col. Eric Rojo, past president, Hispanic War Veterans of America