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Sanders Warns Against Defense Cuts During Speech In D.C.

Speaking today in Washington, D.C., San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders warned against plans for across-the-board spending cuts on defense and other federal programs next year, which he said could trigger devastating job losses locally.

Speaking today in Washington, D.C., San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders warned against plans for across-the-board spending cuts on defense and other federal programs next year, which he said 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 25 percent 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.

The federal Budget Control Act of 2011 calls for the the congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to agree on $1.5 trillion in spending cuts or revenue enhancements over the next decade. If committee members don't at least come close to that figure, then up to $1.2 trillion in automatic spending reductions, spread out through 2021, would go into effect Jan. 3.

The Pentagon's share of those cuts would be $492 billion over a decade.

"It's a serious budget problem for this country,'' Sanders said.

He was joined by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., at a news conference 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 a 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 looming defense cuts and are concerned that there could be another round of base closures in the near future.

Sanders said the San Diego would also be hurt by a loss of non-defense spending, particularly funding for research by the area's universities, life sciences industry and high-tech businesses.

"All of those things are extremely critical to San Diego,'' Sanders said. "When those grants stop coming, then that research stops and the job production stops.''

Congress should not enact across-the-board spending reductions, but target the areas with the least impact on taxpayers, he said.

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