Ahead of President Obama’s campaign trip to Virginia, Mitt Romney dispatched two Virginia House Republicans on Thursday to attack the president for sweeping defense spending cuts he signed into law.
The Obama campaign retorted that many Republicans voted for the bill.
The debt limit law last August, a bipartisan deal struck between the White House and Republicans, set in motion half a trillion dollars in across-the-board defense cuts over 10 years starting 2013 if Congress fails to find savings elsewhere.
“We welcome President Obama to Virginia—the proud home of many military men and women,” said Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA), who voted for the Budget Control Act, in a statement sent via the Romney campaign. “In his remarks on Friday, the President must address—directly and decisively—the massive, violent reduction in defense spending that is headed our way. Pink slips are looming, Virginia will be reeling come January, and our Commander in Chief is eerily silent on this issue. That, in my opinion, is a breach of his duty as head of our armed forces.”
On a conference call hosted by the Romney campaign, Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) accused Obama of bring “a huge box of pink slips that he’s going to distribute across Virginia.” He said the military cuts are “going to have an enormous, devastating blow on Virginia,” adding that pink flips will be delivered to 200,000 individuals in the military as well as defense contractors. Forbes voted against the BCA, citing concerns with the spending military cuts.
Although most House Republicans voted for the Budget Control Act — which was the upshot of the GOP’s demand that a debt limit increase be accompanies by equal budget savings — House GOP lawmakers this year voted overwhelmingly to avoid the military cuts and instead slash poverty programs. Rigell and Forbes were among them.
President Obama says he doesn’t want the defense cuts to go through, but has insisted he won’t agree to replace them unless Republicans agree to include new tax revenues in the mix. But Senate Democrats, who have carried Obama’s message, have not offered a legislative proposal to replace the defense cuts.
“Congressional Republicans can attack the President for spending cuts that they themselves voted for, but if they dropped their insistence on the massive tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires that Mitt Romney supports, this a reality that could be easily avoided,” Obama campaign spokesman Danny Kanner told TPM. “The Administration has made it clear that sequestration would be disastrous for our national security, and that’s why Mitt Romney needs to demonstrate leadership and press his Congressional allies to put middle class military families before tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.”
The nature of the attacks from Romney’s campaign also contain the tacit admission that cuts to government spending can have an adverse effect on jobs and the economy.
This article has been updated for clarity
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.