Virginia Republican Rep. Randy Forbes told The Daily Caller on Thursday that he believes President Barack Obama is holding the nation’s troops and national security “hostage” with his lack of a plan to stop coming Department of Defense cuts from the sequester. Forbes said he thinks the move is an attempt on Obama’s part to force the GOP to support tax increases.
“He wants to use this [sequestration] to blackmail Republicans into raising taxes on the American people,” Forbes said in a phone interview. “He doesn’t care if it is going to cost 700,000 jobs, that is his motivation and that motivation is clear, I think, from the OMB director’s testimony.”
“I voted against this as I thought it was a bad proposal, but this is the commander-in-chief who signed this into law,” Forbes added. “And, I think it is absolutely not responsible to use a mechanism as draconian as sequestration to hold the men and women who defend, to hold the national defense of this country, to hold the economy of this country hostage just so he can force taxes to be raised.”
The problem arises from the Budget Control Act that the debt reduction super committee passed last year. The super committee’s deficit reduction plan, which Obama signed into law, put in place a trigger that will automatically make steep cuts – about $110 billion – to the Department of Defense budget come Jan. 2 if no alternative is adopted. By Defense Secretary Leon Pannetta’s own admission, these cuts – if not stopped – will cause about 1.5 million people to lose their jobs over the course of 10 years. In total, the job losses would add about one full percent to the unemployment rate.
In addition, about 200,000 of those lost jobs include active duty troops who will be forced to retire early. To put that in comparison, 200,000 is bigger than the entire Marine Corps.
Both Republicans and Democrats supported the super committee deal last year, and President Obama signed the deal into law. And, though there was bipartisan support for the deal then, top congressional Republicans who had supported the deal like House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon argue that there it was supposed to be the “’poison pill’ that would guarantee that all parties came to the negotiating table” to talk about specific budget cuts instead of “arbitrary, across-the-board cuts to every part of the military.”
Now, though, as the crisis looms with no solution, it appears President Obama and his administration are planning to blame congressional Republicans for the consequences. Obama’s acting Office of Management and Budget Director Jeffrey Zients started moving down that road, too, during Wednesday testimony before the House Armed Services Committee.