Coalition of Industries and Advocates Fight Sequestration

Photograph by Matthew Staver/Bloomberg

An attendee visits the Northrop Grumman Corp. booth during the 28th National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.

The defense aerospace industry gave 60 percent of its donations to Republicans during the 2012 elections. The high-tech industry gave 59 percent of its contributions to the Democrats. Now, representatives of both industries are teaming up to push back on a common threat: U.S. budget cuts.

Officials of the Aerospace Industries Association and Semiconductor Industry Association were among those speaking out today against the across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration.

“All of us feel the same alarm,” said Hunter Rawlings, president of the Association of American Universities. “That’s how bad the sequester is.”

Speakers said sequestration cuts are jeopardizing the nation’s technological edge in weapons systems and threatening the research and development that leads to new industries and new jobs. Rawlings pulled out an Apple Inc. iPhone and said all of its technology originated from government-funded research.

“We can talk all we want to about cutting spending,” said Wes Bush, chief executive officer of Northrop Grumman Corp. and chairman of the Aerospace Industries Association. “We know over the long term, reducing the deficit involves growing our economy. Growth requires investment.”

Cuts to research programs mean that students who might go into those fields will find another line of work, depriving U.S. industries, including military contractors, of their talent, according to Ian Steff, a vice president of the Semiconductor Industry Association.  “If the money’s not there, the students won’t be there either,” Steff said.

Speakers acknowledged the need for some spending reductions, such as cutting “inefficient and duplicative programs and streamlining processes,” said Dorothy Coleman, vice president of tax and domestic economic policy for the National Association of Manufacturers.

“We all know the realities facing our nation’s debt and deficit, but the logic behind cutting funding for the very things that will spark robust economic growth is shortsighted and harmful,” Coleman said. “Congress needs to make the tough decisions on spending to address our debt crisis, but these decisions cannot be made at the expense of our economic and national security.”

Entitlement programs and revenue increases must also be on the table, speakers said.

Even calls for flexibility in making cuts won’t stave off the harmful impacts as the amount of money available gets smaller and smaller under sequestration, according to Emily Holubowich, co-chairwoman of NDD United, a coalition of trade groups, advocacy organizations and labor unions.

“There’s no amount of flexibility that will make this workable,” she said.

Today’s event was the latest in a series involving AIA, which has launched one of its largest lobbying efforts ever to convince Congress to do away with sequestration.  The trade group also brought smaller subcontractors to Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers and their staffs.

What do you think about this article? Comment below!