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President visits shipyard ahead of Friday’s sequestration deadline

Published 10:03am Wednesday, February 27, 2013

By Tracy Agnew/Suffolk News-Herald
tracy.agnew@suffolknewsherald.com

President Barack Obama urged Congress to compromise to avoid sequestration cuts during a speech at Huntington Ingalls’ Newport News Shipbuilding on Tuesday afternoon.

The president warned hundreds of shipbuilders packed into a submarine manufacturing facility at the shipyard that the cuts could threaten their jobs.

“Over time, some of your jobs and businesses could be at risk,” Obama told the workers. “All told, the sequester could cost tens of thousands of jobs right here in Virginia.”

The automatic spending cuts — known as sequestration — are set to take effect Friday if Congress does not come to an agreement or delay them. The president warned last week that Virginia could lose about $28 million for education, $3 million for environmental funding, $1 million for public health, $1.2 million in funds that provide meals for seniors, and more.

Additional cuts could mean working parents lose access to child care, college students lose work-study jobs and law enforcement loses grants, Obama warned.

“There’s a sensible way to do things, and there’s a dumb way to do things,” Obama told the workers, likening the sequestration cuts to a family cutting college education, food for children or car payments rather than wasteful expenses.

“Instead of cutting out the government spending we don’t need, what the sequester does, it uses a meat-cleaver approach,” the president continued. “We can’t just cut our way to prosperity.”

Obama has proposed a plan he says will reduce the deficit by $1.8 trillion. It includes new revenue from limiting tax deductions for the wealthy and closing other loopholes, as well as cuts through reducing agriculture subsidies, slashing payments to drug companies and to hospitals for patients who don’t pay, reforming the postal service and more.

But Republicans in Congress have been unwilling to budge on what amounts to raising taxes for the wealthy, the president said.

“All we’re asking is that we close loopholes for the well-off and well-connected,” Obama said, singling out professions like hedge fund managers and oil executives. “If the Republicans in Congress don’t like every detail of my plan, which I don’t expect them to … there’s no reason we can’t come together to find a sensible way.”

Obama recognized Virginia Congressmen Bobby Scott (D) and Scott Rigell (R), who were both in attendance. The president said both had been willing to compromise, but Rigell’s fellow Republicans were holding up the process.

Obama discouraged putting off a decision, saying Americans were tired of manufactured crises every month.

“We need to solve this thing now,” he said. “These cuts are wrong. They’re not smart. They’re not fair. They’re a self-inflicted wound that doesn’t have to happen.”

Some shipyard workers in the audience confirmed they are concerned about what will happen to their jobs.

“Today won’t ease my worries,” worker Brent Linton said before the speech. “My feeling right now is that it ain’t gonna be good. I don’t want to see nobody lose a job, lose a way to provide for their family.”

After Obama left the podium, another worker, Lamont Whitaker, said he enjoyed the speech.

“Congress has to get together and get on the ball,” he said.

Mike Petters, president and CEO of Huntington Ingalls Industries, said he was encouraged by Obama’s speech because the president referenced some of the things they had spoken about on a private tour.

“It tells me that he was very engaged in what we’re talking about,” Petters said.

He said it is too early to tell how the cuts could affect shipyard workers.

  • 757hoo

    the president would rather cut firefighters, police officers, border patrol agents, and release 2000 illegal immigrants than cut asinine federal programs such as a 86 million dollar prgram that subsidizes snacks on amtrack train rides. obama has spoken, free mountain dew and funyons for all amtrack patrons, less fireman and police officers.

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  • employee2

    Today President said he couldn’t perform “Jedi-mind-meld” on congress. Think he confused Star Wars and Star Trek?

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  • handkusp45

    Obama is the greatest president we have ever had. If you don’t believe that, just ask him. He is a legend in his
    mind. He isn’t single-handedly destroying this country, he has lots of help. I’m not just talking about Harry Reid and Nancy Pelousey. He has the SEIU and other unions. He has the New Black Panther Party and its thugs. He has the NAACP, the Muslim Brotherhood, George Soros. The American Communist Party is a big supporter of his. And the list goes on and on. Perhaps the two biggest culprits are the entitlement receipients and the low information voters. (some of which, of course, are the same) What bothers me the most are the “highly educated” people who support someone who is bent on the destruction of the United States as we know it. It makes you wonder what form of indoctrination they are receiving in our schools and universities. I guess it just proves once again that you can be smart but not wise. Or as the Bible says “forever learning and never coming to the knowledge of the truth.” Gees!

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    • spider68

      handkusp45—The “highly educated” people (51% to 47%) are all receiving their education from somewhere other than limbaugh, hannity, beck, and fox news. All of that tripe that you just spouted is totally untrue, however it is extremely hard to convince hard line hate filled racist, homophobes, xenophobes, bible spouting conservatives. I would love to be a fly on the wall at your church meetings and hear the hate being preached there. President Obama won. Get over it. He has four more years. I lived thru eight years of that idiot bush, so now it’s your turn. Live with it.

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      • chilimac72

        Your comments are just as hateful as what you are accusing others of being. You stereotype someone with conservative values in the nice little mold you want us all to fit in so that you can accuse them of doing the same to you. I do see that this country is not going in the right direction and that our president has chosen to take liberties not granted to him within the guidelines of the Constitution. We can all admit this country is not going in the right direction, no matter who we blame. Leaders take ownership of what happens on their watch. Was it not a Democrat President who said “the buck stops here”?

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  • rdarden

    Obama is a joke, will always be a joke. The sad part is that we are all having to pay for his stupidity. History will be his judge. CURIOUS, I agree with you! No money for any of the bums until the problem is fixed. The way to a politician is through his pocketbook.

    BOTTOM LINE: Our government has been running WITHOUT a budget now for 5 years. I dont want to hear the Republican/Democrat talking points anymore….. FIX THE DAMN MESS! Could anyone reading this be able to spend and spend without a budget in your personal finances. The answer is no! Governmnet is no different.

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  • skooch

    @nativegirl..your handle should be naivegirl if you believed that dog and pony show…and obviously you did. Obama is whistling a different tune today now he says you won’t see any change at all. It is sad but this guy just does not have any Honor at all.

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    • nativegirl

      Oh, pleas share, brilliant one, what the Mitt would have done better. Instead of name-calling and after pulling your head out of the sand, please grace us with some intelligent ideas instead of vitriolic babble.

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  • curious

    Even in these comments you can tell where the problem(s) lie. The USA is no longer “One Nation, under God” it has become One Nation, Two parties. And even the 2 parties have splits and divisions within their ranks. The first thing to happen in the “sequester” should be that all pay/kickbacks received by all members of Congress be stopped until said budget has been passed and then they may begin to receive their paychecks again (and not retroactive either). Bet they may decide to play well together then.

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  • employee2

    Comment from a reader that was in attendance “The first thing out of his mouth of revelance was “I am not here to bash any political party”, then he spent the remainder of his speech bashing the republicans for not taking any action. This while Harry Reid arrogantly sits on his hands over in the Senate not allowing ANY legislation to move forward. He spoke very little to the shipyard workers about THEIR jobs. Most of his speech were about protecting failed ideologies and programs. The crowd looked unenthused. Anybody can spot a sham”

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  • Tbird

    Mitt Romney is the answer. LOL

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  • chilimac72

    Travel is a funny point. One of the big tragedies of the Sequestration is… Senators and Congressmen will have to fly commercial! That is unacceptable. Our royalty should be carted around and catered to properly so they can effectively do their jobs…. oh wait… never mind.

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  • SlimPickens

    The funny thing is this all was HIS IDEA in the first place. Now he says it is not Smart, it is not the right thing to do. Hellooooooooo…..you made this plan, now fix it. The House is supposed to initiate the budget, then forward it to the Senate to approve/disapprove/negotiate until approved. The House has provided several budgets over the last 4 years. The Senate will not do their job anymore than the President will.

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  • HarleyGurl

    What a joke our President is.

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  • Masknup

    Do us all a favor Mr. Obama, stay in Washington and do your job that you have not done in over four years. Stop blaming the Republicans and President Bush for all the problems of today. Get along with everyone and stop trying to grab all power in DC for the Democrats.

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    • Baseball

      You want to save money Mr know it all,why do you need to take air force one to get to newport news from dc. Probably could have saved a few dollars.

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    • nativegirl

      The President has desperately tried to get things done. When the agenda of the Republicans is to defeat him at EVERY turn, things become a bit difficult. How about some cooperation from them???

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