President Barack Obama’s proposed defense budget would leave San Diego “less protected,” Rep. Duncan D. Hunter said Tuesday at a business forum with four other members of Congress. “Things are going to get scary.”
Hunter, a former Marine, said Obama’s request for $671 billion for the Pentagon doesn’t fall in line with the president’s “strategic pivot” for the Asia-Pacific region.
Such cuts hurt the region, said Hunter, who represents East County and north inland parts of the county.
“Defense has been cut,” the Republican Hunter said of last year’s agreement to cut $487 billion to defense over a decade. “San Diego will be less protected. The budget doesn’t match up to the strategy and I think that’s where things are going to get scary.”
All five of San Diego County's congressional representatives came together for a discussion that also touched on jobs and health care.
The luncheon—hosted by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce at the Marriott in downtown San Diego—featured Reps. Brian Bilbray, Darrell Issa, Susan Davis, Bob Filner and Hunter.
The panel, moderated by KUSI anchor David Davis, asked each member of Congress various questions, but military and the cuts to defense drew the most the discussion.
Democrat Filner, a San Diego mayoral candidate, said defense cuts need to be made.
“We have an incredible deficit,” Filner said. “We have to cut the military budget—it’s got to be more efficient.”
Republican Bilbray said the most important question for Americans to ask themselves is how big a role they’d like to play around the world.
“There are some tough decisions, and priorities need to be made,” Bilbray said. “We just got to make some priority decisions—do we continue to be Big Brother everywhere? We need to be more with what we have and quit being the sugar daddy.”
Syria’s bloody crackdown on dissidents also was discussed—with Democrat Davis and Hunter agreeing that putting U.S. armed forces in the country wasn’t currently an option.
Job growth also was heavily discussed with Bilbray blasting federal government regulations.
“We need to quit punishing people for creating economic opportunities,” said Bilbray, who gave various examples of local companies being handicapped. “It’s costing jobs and it’s hurting the ability to save lives.”
Hunter echoed Bilbray by saying the Obama administration is “hell-bent on making it as hard as possible” for businesses to grow.
But Filner said policy is needed to keep a government functioning and that local and state leaders need to work with federal agencies, and he blasted Bilbray, Hunter and Republican Issa for voting against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The discussion also included the controversial 2010 Affordable Care and Prevention Act being reviewed by the Supreme Court.
Filner and Davis said the court should support the health-care overhaul while Hunter and Bilbray said it should be overturned.
Issa said it wasn’t a matter of whether the law is “good or bad” but its constitutionality. Moreover, he said problems would still exist whether laws were enacted or not.
“This doesn’t fix anything,” Issa said. “The real problem we have to solve is: Why does it cost twice as much to provide health care than in Canada? Our system isn’t twice as good.”
The luncheon attracted hundreds of attendees, including elected leaders of San Diego, National City and Solana Beach.