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(Defense industry leaders panel at National Press Club)
Defense industry executives stepped into the spotlight at the National Press Club December 3 to publicly discuss their views on the effects of the budget cuts and the threat of sequestration on national security. CEOs from Northrop Grumman Corporation, Pratt & Whitney, RTI International Metals Inc. and TASC addressed their concerns surrounding the quickly approaching fiscal cliff and shared their thoughts on acceptable alternatives to sequestration for solving the nation’s debt and deficit problem.
The press conference coincided with the release of a letter addressed to the White House and Congress signed by aerospace and defense industry leaders. The letter urged elected officials to reach compromise on an immediate, bipartisan action to avert the fiscal cliff and triggering of sequestration.
“Today, more than 130 CEOs have signed a letter to President Obama and Congressional leaders, urging them to work together on a deal to avert sequestration and adopt an approach that addresses the country’s long-term fiscal challenges,” said AIA Chairman and President of Pratt & Whitney, David P. Hess.
Hess was joined by incoming 2013 Chairman of AIA and Chairman, CEO and President of Northrop Grumman Corporation, Wes Bush. Bush echoed his colleagues’ warnings of the dangers of defense cuts, saying that sequestration will “damage our industry's ability to attract and retain the kind of highly-trained technical talent our nation needs to help keep its technological superiority in security and defense second to none.”
RTI International Metals Inc. Vice Chair, President and CEO Dawne Hickton shed light on some of the consequences sequestration will have on the country that have taken a backseat to the job loss discussions. “The direct impacts to small- and mid-sized businesses, and the impact on the defense industrial base supply chain, are often overlooked in the discussion,” said Hickton. “The impact to the supply chain is just as challenging, and indeed could be even more devastating as smaller companies lack the same resources to manage through another economic downturn.”
While the defense leaders all agreed that tax increases and spending cuts should be part of a plan to fix the nation’s fiscal debt, it was noted across the board that an additional $500 billion in defense cuts would put our national security at risk.
“The existing cuts are something we understand as a necessary part of getting the country's fiscal house in order. Sequestration is something else entirely,” commented Hess. “The uncertainty in the marketplace over the past year has had a real impact on jobs, investment and innovation. Uncertainty is forcing companies to defer investments and hiring today, when we need it most.”
AIA Source: ashley.gudzak[at]aia-aerospace.org