Could sequestration hurt local economy?

Aug 13, 2012

There is a deadline looming in Washington, D.C. that many politicians are worried could have an effect on the economy -- including some local politicians who are worried it might hurt upstate New York in particular.  

It's called sequestration. And while the name may not make a lot of sense, Representative Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY) is worried what it could really mean for this area is lost jobs.

Sequestration is what will happen if President Barack Obama and Congress can't come to an agreement on how to cut the deficit. If they don't, $1.2 trillion dollars will automatically be slashed from the budget -- split between defense and domestic spending.

While it's not completely clear what the Department of Defense would cut to reduce their budget to the required number, central New York Congresswoman Buerkle is worried about how the cuts might effect defense contractors in the area.

"We have several defense companies in the district, the number of jobs, they’re good jobs, that's of concern," she said. "And the bigger picture, we've got national security issues, and not giving our military state of the art equipment, not having enough resources for a military is also a concern to me."

Buerkle says her district could also be hurt by the planned two percent cut to Medicare.

"Hospitals, Upstate Medical Center, is our largest, one of our largest, along with Syracuse University, employers, and they need to be healthy. They need to get the funds they need from the federal government, so those cuts are concerns to me as well."

The congresswoman believes there are other things that could be cut in the budget to reduce the deficit, if the two sides negotiate with a determination to make it happen.

"I do think that there are so many areas that we could cut and no one would feel the pain that sequestration will do to the hospitals and the military," said Buerkle. "There’s an awful lot of places where we could find the answers without devastating the military and the hospitals. "

The automatic budget cuts go into effect January 2 unless Obama and congressional leaders find a different way to cut the deficit -- something experts think is unlikely until after the election in November.

Ann Marie Buerkle is running for re-election against Democrat Dan Maffei and Green Party candidate Ursula Rozum.