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Miss. U.S. Senator Not Optimistic About Sequestration Deal

By Daniel Cherry | Published 18 Feb 2013 05:31pm | comments
With a deadline looming for Congress to avoid massive, across the board spending cuts, Mississippi's Junior Senator isn't optimistic about a deal. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports, the state's economy could take a big hit if defense budget cuts go into effect.
 
Leaders in Washington would have to reach an agreement before March 1st to avoid slashing the federal government's budget by 1.2 trillion dollars over the next ten years. Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker, says he doesn't expect a deal.
 
"We've seen it before. It's not particularly delightful for me to be telling listeners that that's going to happen, but we seem to go from deadline to deadline, from crisis to crisis in the government these days."
 
The cuts, known as sequestration, would shave 85 billion dollars from the federal budget in the 2013 fiscal year. Almost half of that would come from the department of defense. Bob Neal, Senior Economist with the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, says that would slow the state's economic growth.
 
"We were estimating something in the neighborhood of 9,000 to 10,000 new jobs in Mississippi without including the impacts of sequestration, which means that reduces it down to about 2,000 to 3,000 new jobs in Mississippi for all of 2013. So flat, very flat growth."
 
Mississippi received nearly three and a half billion dollars in 2009 from defense contracts according to the most recent census. Those contracts employ thousands of Mississippians, mainly shipbuilders on the Gulf Coast. Senator Wicker says he's in favor of cuts, but would like to see them come from other programs.
 
"It's something I hope we can avoid. I hope we can find the savings elsewhere, replace the sequestration cuts that are less important to our national security."
 
The Congressional Budget Office estimates sequestration could cost one million jobs nationwide.

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