With 13 days left until the election, the Romney campaign has introduced another hot issue into the campaign.
Republican candidates are now pledging to protect spending on the military in their latest attempt to win over swing-state voters who will likely be hit in their wallets by the massive defense cuts that are imminent due to the budget sequestration process.
The new political commercial playing in nine states is a direct result of Monday’s debate which highlighted Gov. Romney’s concern over the dwindling ship count in the U.S. Navy. The president assured voters that the military “is stronger now than when I came into office.”
The issue is an attempt to utilize the severe military cuts planned at the end of the year and directly link them to the “fiscal cliff” worries if Congress fails to act. Congressional Republicans passed a budget bill that would avert the cuts, but it has stalled in the Senate.
The insinuation places the ball directly in the president’s court.
Retired Major Gen. Bob Scales was quoted as saying all of the military has a “sense of unease” as the two major wars in Afghanistan and Iraq come to their own U.S. involvement completion.
Scales went on to say, “I watched the Army and the Marine Corps almost break after 9/11, when too few soldiers and Marines were applied to too many missions. We have to be very, very careful as we move into the future that when we reduce the defense budget we don’t break the back of our services and force our young men and women to go to war unprepared, without sufficient numbers to win in the future.”
It is the Republican’s intention, rightly or wrongly, to tie the Democrats to the notion that trillions of dollars this administration has imposed on coming generations of Americans is due to military spending. The excuse is ludicrous.
The political ad points out that the growth of expenditures is clearly in entitlements.
Obama made several points about the military during Monday’s debate that received widespread attention from military experts. Republicans believe they could impact the political dynamics in military-dependent swing states such as Virginia.
The commonwealth’s Tidewater region is home to Naval Station Norfolk, which supports the entire U.S. Atlantic fleet.
The president scoffed at Romney’s contention that the dwindling size of the U.S. Navy was “unacceptable.” Obama’s now famous retort was, “Well, governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed.”
Virginia GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell said, “President Obama’s comment about ‘horses and bayonets’ was an insult to every sailor who has put his or her life on the line for our country.”
Swing-states usually immune from the military will be affected according to the Republican argument. For example, The Center for Security Policy estimates that sequestration could cost swing-state Iowa some $406 million in economic activity. More defined, that’s approximately 5,000 jobs.
The Obama administration is cautious about the sequestration issue. They adamantly deny that the entire process was their idea and have promised to make amends to defense contractors who suffer cuts in their production efforts – in other words, severance pay.
According to the White House, the notices will be announced November 2nd, just four days before the election. An interesting timetable considering the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (1988) has required companies by federal law to give employees at least 60 days of notice prior to potential plant closings or layoffs, or be liable for financial penalties.
During the exchanges about the military between Obama and Romney, the president finally blurted out, “The sequester . . . will not happen.”
Many in Congress expressed shock upon hearing that statement considering the Republicans have been trying to engage the the president for months to avert the drastic cuts.
Somebody is trying to pull the wool over the nation’s voters. There are 13 days left to decide who that is.
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