Virginians have heard a lot in the last several weeks about sequestration, defense cuts and Washington deals.
In my travels throughout Virginia, I have had the opportunity to hear firsthand what this means from service-disabled veterans who own small businesses in the Shenandoah Valley, Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia. These businesses provide tactical equipment and services to our troops. One by one, these defense-related businesses tell me that sequestration means they are pulling back under uncertainty that is preventing them from creating new jobs.
Last year, the president forced a deal on Congress, which, beginning Jan. 2, will cut $500 billion from America's paramount responsibility of national defense. Due to the failures of Washington, these devastating cuts could eliminate more than 200,000 Virginia jobs, damage our economy and hurt thousands of Virginia families while harming our military readiness.
It's no wonder Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and respected military leaders have called the looming cuts "disastrous for our national defense." A $500 billion cut to our military will lead to 10 percent funding reductions for our armed forces, forced closure of military bases and cancellation of modernization of weapons systems. It will disrupt our efforts to keep the peace and protect our national security.
The effects will be especially devastating in Virginia because we are home to 20 major military installations, hundreds of thousands of servicemen and women and thousands of contractors who help keep our nation strong and safe.
According to Dr. Stephen Fuller, a noted economist at George Mason University, more than 207,000 Virginians will lose their jobs and more than $10.6 billion in Virginia labor income will disappear as a result of these cuts. In fact, Virginia's job losses will be the second-worst in the nation, with Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads especially hard hit.
The Republican-led House of Representatives is fighting hard against the cuts, passing a bill in May that would protect our military from the devastating cuts while still making substantial progress to reduce the deficit. The U.S. Senate, led by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., won't allow that bill to see the light of day.
My opponent, Tim Kaine, wants to join Harry Reid in the U.S. Senate. And where does he stand?
Kaine has repeatedly voiced support for the sequestration budget deal that is responsible for the looming defense cuts, even calling the deal "the right thing to do" in our July debate. The right for whom? I couldn't disagree more. I opposed the deal from the beginning because I know it's not right for the men and women of our military and the people of Virginia.
But Kaine has offered a trade: Along with President Obama, he is willing to block sequestration in exchange for tax increases that will cause more job losses. Kaine and Obama are so eager to raise taxes that they are willing to use as leverage the jobs of more than 200,000 Virginians, as well as our military's preparedness.
The men and women of our armed forces should never be used as a political bargaining tool to raise taxes on job-creating small-business owners.
Leadership is about setting priorities and getting others to join together in accomplishing those goals. As governor, I worked with a legislature controlled by Democrats to achieve historic reforms, including welfare reform, abolition of parole, high education standards and tax cuts that helped create more than 300,000 net new jobs.
And I aim to provide that leadership in Washington to save our military and Virginia jobs.
Ronald Reagan once said, "Our military strength is a prerequisite to peace." He was right. The failure of Obama, Reid and Kaine to heed that wisdom endangers our commonwealth and our nation.
It's time for new leadership in Washington.
George Allen is a former governor and U.S. senator for Virginia. He is currently a candidate for Virginia's open U.S. Senate seat in 2012.