Romney attacks Obama on defense cuts

“Unfortunately, the defense cuts you signed into law will hit Virginians hard,” Romney wrote. “Your insistence on slashing our military to pay the tab for your irresponsible spending could see over 200,000 troops forced from service. It will shut the doors on factories and shipyards that support our warfighters, take a heavy toll on the guard and reserves, and potentially shutter Virginia military bases.”

Romney’s letter is the latest in a concerted effort by Republicans to blame Obama for the $500 billion in defense cuts that could begin to take effect next year through sequestration.

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The White House has said that onus is on Congress to fix the sequestration cuts, which would chop defense and non-defense spending by $500 billion each over the next decade. Democrats are quick to point out that Republicans voted for the Budget Control Act, which set the wheels of sequestration in motion.

“What’s needed is action to avoid the sequester by Congress passing balanced deficit reduction along the lines that the president has put forward,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday.

Obama has threatened to veto bills that avoid sequester without alternative deficit reduction, and has said that a deal should include tax increases.

Romney’s letter sought to shift the burden on Obama, arguing that Congress has a solution to the cuts that Obama has threatened to veto. The House has passed a plan from House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to avoid the first year of sequester, but Democrats say it’s a nonstarter.

“When Congress presented you a way out of this mess, a mess of your own making, you threatened to veto their bill,” Romney wrote. “And the reason you gave, Mr. President, is that you would not stop devastating cuts to our national security unless Congress agreed to raise our taxes.”

Romney's attacks on defense cuts, which included a series of statements issued Thursday from Virginia surrogates, were timed to coincide during Obama's campaign stop in one of the key battleground states in the election and a big military hub. Studies from industry groups have shown that Virginia would be the second-hardest state hit by the defense sequester after California.

House Republicans are planning to join in on the Romney campaign’s attacks over the defense cuts next week when the House takes up the Defense appropriations bill.