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naval base san diegoWASHINGTON (CNN) — San Diego will be one of the regions hardest hit if mandatory budget cuts hit the Defense Department, the Pentagon says.

Having warned about freezing weapons systems and risks to national security, the armed services are now trying to show members of Congress exactly how mandatory budget cuts will impact their states.

Just days before the forced spending cuts could begin to take effect, the Army and Navy are circulating estimates about which areas will be economically hit the hardest.

In documents sent to Congress and obtained by CNN, both the Army and Navy lay out the impacts on the services and industry that would be hit by the measures that may go into effect starting March 1. The forced spending cuts, mandated by a 2011 agreement to raise the federal debt ceiling, will take effect unless lawmakers come up with another deficit reduction plan.

According to the Navy documents, the hardest hit regions will coincide with the location of major Navy facilities in California, the Mid-Atlantic, Florida, Washington state, parts of the Northeast and Hawaii. San Diego has the second highest concentration of military personnel in the nation.

The Navy anticipates it will need to slash about $12 billion in spending by the end of this fiscal year. The impact would affect more than 300,000 sailors with cuts to Navy operational programs and cost some 186,000 Navy civilians 20% of their paychecks though furloughs.

The Army estimates that the cuts, known in Washington jargon as sequestration, will have a $15 billion economic impact across the country and affect more than 300,000 jobs nationwide.

The hardest hit states include Texas, Virginia and Pennsylvania, home to major Army facilities and industrial bases for the service.

The Army anticipates it will need to slash $18 billion in spending by the end of this fiscal year, ending September 30.

If the spending cuts are carried out, the Army would be required to furlough 251,000 of its civilian employees. It estimates that would save it $1.9 billion through the end of September.

Ahead of the congressional notification, at least three Air Force bases have cut their publicly popular annual air shows — one each in Arizona, Virginia and South Carolina. Air Force officials said the cuts were due to “budgetary-related issues” and the looming possibility of the forced spending cuts.

Air shows can cost an air base a minimum of $100,000, according to Air Force officials. If the sequestration does hit, both the Air Force air demonstration team, known as the Thunderbirds, and the Navy’s air demonstration team, known as the Blue Angels, would stop operations for the rest of the year.

Panetta: Fiscal Crisis Poses Biggest Immediate Threat to DODWASHINGTON (CNN) — Nearly 800,000 civilian workers would be forced to take one day of leave per week without pay if automatic spending cuts go into effect as scheduled, the Defense Department told Congress Wednesday.

The furloughs would start in the last week of April and last for 22 weeks, according to the Pentagon plan. It’s unclear what would happen after 22 weeks.

The Pentagon’s plan is in response to the mandatory, across-the-board federal budget cuts, known as sequestration, that are set to begin on March 1. The cuts, mandated by a 2011 agreement to raise the federal debt ceiling, will take effect unless lawmakers come up with another deficit reduction plan.

The workers who would be furloughed could include office staff, aircraft and ship maintenance workers, schoolteachers and medical staff.

Under federal law, the Pentagon is obligated to notify Congress of furloughs 45 days before they go into effect, and the workers 30 days before they are furloughed.

The military services and other defense agencies will have to maintain at least minimum staffing for the “safety of property and safety of life,” Defense Department spokeswoman Lt. Col. Elizabeth Robbins said. That means, for example, a military base would have to maintain a minimum force of security personnel.

Similarly, military hospitals must have enough medical staff to provide services to active-duty personnel, including the wounded.

Another crucial service is Defense Department-run schools. Enough teaching staff, including special education teachers, will have to remain on the job for the schools to remain accredited and for there to be a credible full school year of education.

Robbins said these issues will be resolved in the coming days as various elements of the department submit their specific plans and apply for waivers of personnel they believe must be kept on the job.

The initial plans for across-the-board furloughs do not distinguish between essential and nonessential personnel. That will have to come through waivers approved by the Pentagon, Robbins said.

Furloughed personnel would not be allowed to work from home. For now, no decision has been made about whether work cell phones, digital devices and laptop computers would be confiscated for those days.

Health care benefits would be maintained, Robbins said.

 

SAN DIEGO – The return of 240 Marines to San Diego Monday was full of hugs and smiles, but it didn’t calm the nerves for military families that the sequestration deadline nears.

Screen Shot 2013-02-18 at 5.10.46 PMMembers of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing arrived from Aghanistan to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and were welcomed home by their families. Like many of them, Marnie Hammond couldn’t wait to embrace her deployed husband Max, yet she couldn’t help but worry about their future finances.

“It’s very scary to think of cuts that happen in the military,” said Hammond.  “Sequestration scares me to death.”

If Congress cannot reach a budget, spending cuts to the military will begin March 1.

Congressman Scott Peters gathered with several members of the San Diego Unified Board of Port Commissioners to address the topic.

“Congress can’t allow the sequester to happen,” said Peters. “At the end of last year, the sequestration threatened about 30,000 jobs just in the military alone in San Diego County.”Marine father returns to daughter's hug

Peters said not only will the sequester affect the military, but it will also cut deep into other sectors of our economy. Millions of jobs hang in the balance.

“If we let the sequester go into effect, it cuts about $3 of our [gross domestic product],” said Peters.  “I think we’ve been growing at a rate of less than $2 a year. That’s a big setback.”

Major General Gregg Sturdevant told media that the topic of sequestration wasn’t even a small concern.

“I think it will have a minor impact and forces that are forward deployed,” said Sturdevant.

Robert Briones weathered the downturn in the economy well, working more than he needed, going on a vacation to Norway with his family and eating out at lunch from time to time.

money cutsBut even the 48-year-old psychologist can’t escape the latest blow to consumers’ finances: a tax increase that will affect an estimated 160 million workers. As part of the deal on the so-called fiscal cliff, Congress extended tax breaks for middle-income families but did not extend a payroll tax cut that was set to expire this year.

As of Tuesday working Americans saw a tax on their paychecks rise to 6.2% from 4.2% last year. Economists estimate that this could strip $115 billion in disposable income from the economy this year.

“I’ll cut back on the little things,” said Briones, who makes about $100,000 a year and will pay $2,000 more in payroll taxes than he did last year. He anticipates that he’ll make cuts in expenses such as gym memberships, eating out and piano lessons for his kids.

Workers who make $20,000 to $30,000 will take home an average of about $300 less a year, while those making half a million to a million dollars before taxes will take home $14,812 less because of income-tax increases related to the deal, according to calculations by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

Read more of Alana Semuels story at latimes.com.

WASHINGTON — The House voted Tuesday to roll back income tax increases on the vast majority of Americans, finalizing a deal on the so-called fiscal cliff after weeks of gridlock.

The approval, in a session that stretched late into the New Year’s holiday, came after hours of closed-door debate among Republicans, with conservatives threatening to derail a bill that had overwhelmingly passed the Senate in the early hours of the morning.

Read more at latimes.com

fiscal cliffWASHINGTON — A sharply divided House Republican leadership struggled to reach agreement on a measure to avoid part of the so-called “fiscal cliff,” as key members said they could not support the compromise approved early Tuesday by the Senate.

In a closed-door meeting of Republican House members, Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the No. 2 Republican in the chamber, said he could not support the Senate-passed bill, according to two GOP lawmakers. Other Republicans said the bill would have to be amended and returned to the Senate.

Read more at latimes.com

WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden will return to Capitol Hill to meet with House Democrats to talk over the votes expected later Tuesday on the “ fiscal cliff ” deal that was negotiated in the Senate.

FiscalCliffThe closed-door meeting with the House Democratic caucus, scheduled for shortly after noon, is aimed at rallying votes in favor of the bill which passed the Senate in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. That package would halt income tax increases that otherwise would affect almost all Americans. It would allow taxes to go up for upper-income taxpayers, mostly those with taxable incomes above $450,000.

“There’s more work to do to reduce our deficits, and I’m willing to do it,” President Obama said in a statement following the Senate vote. “But tonight’s agreement ensures that, going forward, we will continue to reduce the deficit through a combination of new spending cuts and new revenues from the wealthiest Americans.”

Read more at latimes.com

In a news conference Monday, President Barack Obama said that an agreement to avert the fiscal cliff is “within sight.”

WASHINGTON — If the nation goes over the ” fiscal cliff ,” some Americans will wake up Tuesday with financial headaches to rival a New Year’s Eve hangover.

fiscal cliffMore than 2 million long-term jobless would receive their final unemployment benefit check within days. Millions of taxpayers would be unable to file their returns early, resulting in delayed refunds. Taxes would rise immediately on workers across the board. And although some of those increases may eventually be reversed, the first paychecks of the year would be smaller until any legislative fixes kick in.

Even if the crisis is resolved quickly after the new year as pressure mounts on President Obama and lawmakers, it poses a short-term administrative nightmare for businesses. And it would be a financial blow to millions of people struggling to make ends meet in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

Read more at latimes.com

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