We started the day with an item about U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss calling for one of three presidential debates between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to focus on a solution to the $16 trillion federal deficit – and recommendations by the Simpson-Bowles Commission to address it.
Chambliss will have to walk a fine line in the next few days, however. My AJC colleague Daniel Malloy says the senator is about to embark on a campaign to shield Georgia from some serious mandatory defense cuts, with an eight-stop tour of military bases:
And lest anyone accuse the Republican Chambliss of politicking – he’s even inviting Democrats.
Albany Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop will join Chambliss at the Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany and at Fort Benning in Columbus on Monday. Later in the month, Augusta Democratic Rep. John Barrow will snag some bipartisan cred in the midst of a tough election year by joining Chambliss at Fort Gordon.
The other stops will be Marietta, Warner Robins, Savannah, King’s Bay and Valdosta. Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson will be along for a few, and some other U.S. House members will join in their districts.
Because of the Budget Control Act – a.k.a the deal last year made to hike the debt ceiling, about $1 trillion in cuts over 10 years begin on Jan. 1, split between military spending and domestic agencies. Republicans and many Democrats are frantically trying to find ways to avoid the defense cuts, which Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has warned will severely damage military readiness.
It also will shed jobs in Georgia, one of the most military-heavy states in the country.
In the presidential campaign, Republicans are trying to pin the cuts on President Barack Obama, which is difficult considering the reductions are going into effect because the congressional “supercommittee” couldn’t agree on a consensus plan last year. But Obama is not helping matters by declining, so far, to offer details of what exactly would be cut next year if nothing is done. This week the administration promised to exempt military pay and benefits from the cuts, but has offered no further guidance.
For those keeping score at home (and watching for blame-shifting) here are the Georgia members on the hook as voting for the sugar-coated Satan sandwich that led to the current panic: Isakson, Barrow, Bishop, Rep. Tom Price, R-Roswell; Rep. Hank Johnson, D-DeKalb; Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta; and Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider