The Pentagon's fiscal year 2013 budget request -- which puts the brakes on military spending after a decade of steady increases -- would jeopardize the jobs of hundreds of thousands of skilled workers, Aerospace Industries Association President and CEO Marion Blakey said.
The Defense Department on Monday unveiled a $613 billion budget proposal, calling the request "a disciplined use of defense dollars." The mushrooming budget deficit in Washington has forced military leaders to scale back projected spending by $487 billion over the next decade.
Blakey asserted that the budget request "is not a shot over the bow of the American aerospace and defense worker -- it's a direct hit."
"The solution to our country's budget crisis does not lie in further indiscriminate cuts to defense that put our country at risk and will throw hundreds of thousands of skilled workers out of their jobs," Blakey said in a news release.
In and of itself, the projected 10-year, $487 billion cut to the defense budget would reduce the Pentagon's military buying power by $20 billion in 2013, Blakey noted.
"The American warfighter and our national security are not the only victims of this first, drastic result of the 2011 Budget Control Act," she said.
"The budget released today takes direct aim at the first wave of 350,000 aerospace and defense workers who will be out of work if Congress does not find a solution to the sequestration trigger being pulled in 321 days.
"In the meantime, hundreds of companies that together form the 'defense industrial base' have already begun to downsize in response to the cuts already enacted."
Because "sequestration-driven budget cuts" likely would affect the Federal Aviation Administration and NASA as well, Blakey asserted that additional aerospace workers in all 50 states would "share the pain of those 350,000 employees projected to be jobless following a $1 trillion cut to the defense budget."
Reforming entitlement programs and tax policies "are the only answers" to Washington's multitrillion-dollar budget deficit, Blakey said, adding that cutting spending on the FAA's NextGen air-traffic-management system only would "reverse progress toward safer, more efficient air travel."
"The notion that adequate spending on our country's defense, infrastructure and future in space is in any way 'discretionary' is, simply put, dangerous," Blakey asserted.
With the elections just months away, Blakey added that current and aspiring politicians will have to answer to the 1 million aerospace and defense workers in the United States, who will ask, "'Are those we elect to office prepared to make the tough decisions on realistic, long-term budget reform?'"
"The thousands of aerospace and defense workers who find themselves out of work this year as a result of the budget crisis will undoubtedly be the first to demand an answer," Blakey added.