WASHINGTON, D.C.--Mississippi defense jobs are under threat again as the new deadline to work out a deal on sequestration approaches. Late last year Congress worked out a deal to effectively postpone dealing with massive automatic military budget cuts set up as a consequence for the 2011 "Supercommittee's" failure to reach a budget solution.
Now, about a half trillion dollars in busget cuts are set to kick in, which would cut as many as 11,000 military and defense contractor jobs in the Magnolia State to begin with. Some estimate that more than 20,000 jobs could eventually be lost in the state, which could be devastating to communities like Columbus, Biloxi and Meridian, where many are employed by contractors.
The pressure is now on Congress to come up with a plan to avoid the cuts. President Obama told CBS News this weekend that he wants to see tax loopholes closed and wants Congress to make what he calls "smart spending cuts".
"When you look at some of these deductions that some folks can take advantage of, the average person can't take advantage of them," he said.
Obama said the rich should pay a more fair share of taxes, paving the way to avoiding huge deficits like the one that will cause military and defense spending cuts.
He said he does not believe sequestration will cause a recession.
"Washington cannot continually operate under a cloud of crisis. That freezes up consumers. It gets business worried."
Republicans in Congress have said they don't want to see sequestration kick in, but they insist on seeing "responsible spending".
Outgoing Defense Sec. Leon Panetta is also laying it at the feet of Congress.
"The president has indicated his concern about maintaining a strong national defense," he said. "He has proposed a solution to this. The ball is in Congress' court. They have got to take action."