Pending Defense Cuts Would Hit Hard, say Senators McCain, Graham, and Ayotte

July 31, 2012

Fayetteville's economy could be devastated if Congress doesn't reach a deal to avert the $500 billion reduction in federal defense spending scheduled to start in January.

That was the message Monday from Republican Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte, who spoke at Fayetteville Technical Community College as part of a four-state trip to sound a warning about the potential effects of defense cuts.

The military accounts for about 40 percent of personal income in the Fayetteville region, which makes the area more susceptible to a reduction in defense spending.

"Y'all are about to get screwed if this thing happens. I don't know how to be more blunt with you," Graham said, adding that Republicans and Democrats share blame for the situation. "I've never seen a scenario since I've been in politics that scares me more than this."

The scenario dates to last summer. In July, Republicans in Congress refused to raise the nation's debt limit without a deal in place to cut spending. The deal called for cutting at least $2 trillion from the federal deficit over the next 10 years in exchange for raising the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion.

A group of 12 lawmakers, known as the supercommittee, was formed to cut at least $1.2 trillion from the deficit either through reduced spending or tax increases. But the supercommittee's failure to find a compromise triggered automatic additional cuts of $1 trillion, split evenly between defense and domestic spending.

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