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Mayor Sanders Speaks Out About Defense Spending Cuts

Speaking in Washington, D.C., today, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders warned against plans to reducing defense spending by $1.2 trillion next year, saying that could trigger devastating job losses locally.

"Like every other city in the country, San Diego has been struggling to recover from the worst national recession in nine decades,'' Sanders said.

"Arbitrary, politically motivated cuts to the national defense budget are the last thing our city needs right now, given that a quarter of all jobs in this region are tied to the defense industry.''

The San Diego Military Advisory Council estimated last month that about one-quarter of the jobs in the region rely in some way on defense spending. San Diego is raking in about $20 million in Pentagon cash this fiscal year, according to a council report. About $8 billion is spent on salaries for 140,000 military and civilian Defense Department employees.

At issue is $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts that will take effect Jan. 3 if the congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction fails to lower the deficit by $1.5 trillion -- either through lower expenditures or higher revenues. The Pentagon's share of the cuts if committee members can't reach an agreement is $492 billion, through 2021.

Sanders was joined by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R- N.H., and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., at a news conference in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association. They said the loss of defense-related jobs could be "staggering.''

In California alone, more than 225,000 jobs would be jeopardized, about 135,000 of them directly tied to the military, according to the study by Stephen Fuller, a professor at George Mason University. Another 90,000 or so could be indirectly affected.

In all, more than 2.1 million jobs could be at stake nationally, Fuller said.

San Diego officials have been wary about the looming defense cuts and are concerned that there could be another round of base closures in the near future.

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