Military Matters: Fort Drum & The Fiscal Cliff

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Going over the fiscal cliff would mean tax hikes on all Americans and automatic spending cuts across the board.

An especially big bite, to the tune of $500 billion, would be slashed from the defense budget.

"That's not a good way to do your business. It could have, you know, literally disastrous effects on Fort Drum, on national security, and on this community," said north country Congressman Bill Owens (D. - 23rd District).

That threat is real, unless Congress can agree to $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction measures by the end of this year.

Although Owens remains hopeful, the Pentagon announced last week that it had started planning for the cuts, known as sequestration.

There would be 7 to 8 percent reductions in defense spending across the board - from personnel to procurement.

"It is going to have a serious impact in terms of those coming home, the programs that serve them, the support systems that we have," said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

And it could have a serious effect on the north country.

Fort Drum is the economic engine here and spending cuts would put everything from civilian salaries and construction projects to what soldiers and their families spend in our community in jeopardy.

"That ripple effect in my view would be disastrous and we do not have to get there. We can get there with some rational approach to both cuts in spending and increased revenue," said Owens.

For now though, it's a game of wait and worry.

Friday, October 24, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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