Military spending cuts spotlighted as President prepares address - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Defense cuts spotlighted as President prepares State of the Union

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The end of the war in Afghanistan and likely the end of several military expenditures are expected to addressed Tuesday as President Obama gives his State of the Union.

Both issues have strong implications in south Georgia and the Lowcountry.

The President already outlined half a trillion dollars in proposed military spending cuts, which lawmakers, after exploring deeper cuts, could push closer to the one trillion dollar mark after all is said and done.

Some of representatives in the U.S. House and Senate worry the sequestration on March 1, a budget mechanism in place to reduce spending, will see the military take the brunt of spending cuts. Congressman Jack Kingston fears contract workers at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield may feel the impact.

However, he says there are military cuts which need to happen.

On one hand, he says cutting too much too fast gives our enemies overseas a sense of weakness and vulnerability.

On the other hand, he says military air shows, like the Blue Angels who have been coming to Beaufort and Vidalia for years and years, cost $37 million a year.

Nationwide, military fly-overs in general cost $100 million a year, Kingston says, including stadiums with a dome over them. He wants to see the President address streamlining the military without sacrificing national security.

"I think we have to be willing to say if you were spending your own money, is this the way you would spend it? Most people, I think, would say no," Kingston said. "You can always restart these programs. It's not that there is going to be a disaster and it does not put national security at risk if you end or delay some of these things."

On the topic of spending cuts, coupled with taxes going up Jan. 1, Kingston says he would love to hear the President address debt issues, a bipartisan agreement to cut spending and propose a spending reduction plan.  

The President will outline the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, including 34,000 troops over the next year brought back to the U.S.

The battle over the economy has been a hot topic in Washington, and lawmakers and economic leaders want to hear more on both Tuesday.

The President is expected to stress jobs and the economy, and may even announce new policies to fix the economy's slow recovery pace, which has continued to worry anybody with or without a job.  

Congressman Kingston was in Rincon Tuesday speaking at the Effingham County Career Center, and fielded many economy related questions. President Obama is expected to call for more investment in manufacturing and infrastructure.

Effingham County Industrial Development Authority CEO John Henry says Savannah's pending harbor deepening is great news, but also means roads and highways will see more traffic and face extra wear and tear. He wants to see the President focus on infrastructure.

"There have been talks about infrastructure banks in the past. We'd really like to see where the money is coming from. Since earmarks were done away with, we have to hope for new money coming into the area," Henry said.

"I think the best  thing the federal government can do to create jobs is get out of the way of the private sector," Kingston said. "Have a stable regulatory environment and balanced and let businesses and let businesses do their thing."

The President will speak to the nation in his State of the Union address at 9 p.m. Feb. 12.

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