Reasonable People…Can Agree

The politics in Washington DC can make for strange bedfellows—especially in the face of a crisis. And the looming threat of meat-axe budget cuts, called sequestration, was enough to bring together some powerful segments of our economy to plea for reason.

In an unusual display of unity among groups that ordinarily compete with one another, experts representing the defense, aerospace, public health and education sectors joined forces February 11, to call for a halt to the sequester scheduled to occur on March 1.

CRD Associates senior vice president Emily Holubowich, who co-chairs “NDD United,” opened a news conference at the National Press Club by acknowledging this rare collaboration. NDD United is a broad alliance of diverse interests in nondefense discretionary programs, including education and job training, public health and safety, law enforcement, science, natural resources, housing, social services, and infrastructure.

“We’re going to rise and fall together in this debate,” said Holubowich, who co-chairs NDD United. “Working separately wasn’t working.”

Other speakers at the press conference included Marion Blakey, president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA); Wes Bush, CEO and President of Northrop Grumman Corp.; Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities; and Hunter Rawlings, president of the Association of American Universities.

The group announced that it was sending letters to President Obama and members of Congress, urging them to find a bipartisan alternative to sequestration—one that includes new revenues, an overhaul of entitlement programs and cuts to non-discretionary programs.

NDD United’s 72-page letter carries 3,200 signatures on behalf of organizations representing the defense industry, education, law enforcement and public health and more.  A copy of the letter can be found at: http://publichealthfunding.org/uploads/NDD3200Letter.Final.Feb2013.pdf

Participants at the press conference called sequestration a “reckless and blunt tool” that would have a chilling effect on innovation and ultimately slow economic growth. While acknowledging that politicians faced some tough choices, all agreed that discretionary programs had already incurred deep cuts. Northrop Grumman’s Wes Bush, in fact, noted that discretionary spending is already at levels not seen since the Eisenhower administration. AIA’s Blakey added that sequestration threatens to have a toxic effect on the U.S. economy, putting at risk 2.2 million jobs in the defense and nondefense sectors.

All the participants emphasized the commonalities of interest among the sectors represented.  Holubowich emphasized that our national defense is dependent on the good health of recruits and the quality of research done at our major academic centers. The health of our population and the quality of our education system require an environment that is safe from both foreign and domestic threats.  Our society only functions well when all elements work together.

To view the press conference, go to http://www.c-span.org/Events/Organizations-Discuss-Joint-Effort-to-Stop-Sequestration/10737437956/

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Lisa Ellington

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