Newport News (Virginia), Feb 27 (IANS/EFE) President Barack Obama said Tuesday that the US economy and national security will suffer if a set of automatic spending cuts takes effect later this week.
Obama selected a shipyard in Newport News as the site where he once again urged Congress to avoid the $85 billion in cuts poised to kick in Friday as part of the so-called sequester.
"Now, that's a pretty bad name - sequester. But the effects are even worse than the name," Obama emphasized in a speech to some 1,000 workers.
"And the longer these cuts are in place, the greater the damage," the president said in rejecting the plan proposed by the Republicans, who are intending to leave the sequester intact while giving more flexibility to the government to decide where and how to implement the reductions.
Republicans and Democrats in 2011 agreed to the spending cuts to force each other to reach a long-term agreement about reducing the budget deficit.
The defense department will be one of those affected if the cuts take effect and the state of Virginia, which is very dependent on the military industry, could lose hundreds of thousands of jobs, according to what the president said Tuesday.
"We're going to lose a lot of people. Our productivity is going to go down," Ricardo Alfonso Palacios, a Honduran-born worker at Newport News Shipbuilding, told EFE regarding what he anticipates will happen if the cuts are implemented.
Obama traveled to Newport News accompanied by two Virginia lawmakers, Democrat Bobby Scott and Republican Scott Rigell, as an example of the bipartisan commitment he said is needed to prevent the cuts.
Rigell is one of the few Republicans who agree with Obama and the Democrats that to avoid the cuts an accord is necessary that combines reductions in some social programmes with tax hikes on the wealthy.