NORFOLK -- As in virtually every federal race in this year's election cycle, the prospect of massive defense cuts has become a major campaign issue for candidates.
In Virginia's 3rd Congressional District, incumbent Democrat Bobby Scott and Republican challenger Dean Longo have vastly different ideas on what to do about the problem.
According to a George Mason University study, Virginia stands to lose 207,000 jobs if the automatic deficit reduction plan known as sequestration kicks in on January 2, 2013. Clearly, many of those jobs could come from the military-heavy third district.
Scott has represented the district for nearly 20 years and is seeking his eleventh two-year term.
He says the easiest way to stop sequestration and avoid the defense cuts is for Congress to simply let the Bush-era tax cuts expire at year's end.
'You don't have to come together, just do nothing,' said Scott. 'The tax cuts expire on their own, If we do nothing, we've got $4 trillion in deficit reduction. I've told people,'don't just do something, stand there.''
Scott says it's 'absurd' in this strained budgetary climate that Republicans continue to push for tax reductions for the wealthy. He says such cuts could result in big reductions to the Pentagon.
Longo accused Scott of 'playing reckless politics' by linking defense cuts to tax cuts.
He advocates avoiding defense cuts altogether, as a Republican- back House bill passed in May would do. It replaces the sequester with what backers call 'common sense spending cuts and reforms.'
'Everybody is tying it to all these things - we've got to tie it to the Bush tax cuts. we don't have to tie it to anything,' said Longo.
'Everyone acknowledges this is bad policy and it's going to do damage. I think we need to just get rid of the sequester and then get into good solid discussions on what to do with the debt,' he added.
Longo and Scott made their remarks during tapings at WVEC-TV for 13 News' 'Vote 2012' program. The show airs Sunday, October 7, at noon.