Both Susan Bysiewicz and Rep. Chris Murphy said Monday that they would support cuts to defense spending to help reduce the nation’s deficit, but that Connecticut defense industries would not be affected by such a move.
At a debate at the , the Democratic candidates for Senate fielded questions related to the role of military spending in the economy. Each said they felt defense cuts would be necessary to balance the budget.
Bysiewicz said the Government Accountability Office recently found $1.2 billion in duplicate defense funds that could be eliminated. She said the country should also work toward realigning its military to better address new threats.
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“We have a military right now that has an infrastructure that was put into place during the Cold War and after World War II,” said Bysiewicz.
Bysiewicz said such a move would not target Sub Base New London, but rather aim to close U.S. bases in Europe which she said serve no purpose after the Cold War.
“I think we need fewer troops and bases overseas,” she said. “We need stronger air and naval power, and both of those things would benefit Connecticut because of the very strong defense industry which we have right here.”
Murphy said these industries, namely the Groton-based nuclear submarine manufacturer and the jet-engine program at Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford, are “absolutely critical to our defense as a nation.” He said submarines are still vital to defense against new threats in the Pacific.
“We are poised here in southeastern Connecticut to be a leader,” said Murphy. “People don’t know this, but it actually takes less time for a sub to get to the Southeast Asian theater from Groton than it does from San Diego.”
Both Bysiewicz and Murphy opposed the creation of a new Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission. Murphy said the government has not yet completed its last BRAC and that this commission overran its anticipated expenditures.
Murphy also said he would support investment in stronger “Buy America” laws, which he felt would reduce federal spending while creating up to 600,000 jobs. Bysiewicz said she also supported the idea, but said the United States is still losing jobs to oversea competitors and that Congress has failed to close loopholes related to these laws.
Each candidate also said they would like to see U.S. troops withdrawn from Afghanistan sooner than the end of 2014, as proposed by President Barack Obama. Murphy says he has visited Afghanistan three times during his time in Congress.
“I’ve seen the growing reality that we are doing more harm than good to this nation’s security by continuing to be there,” he said.
Bysiewicz said the war has placed an immense burden on veterans, citing a statistic declaring that between 2001 and 2010 more than 1,000 California soldiers returning from Afghanistan have committed suicide.
“For every month that we [speed up the withdrawal] we save 50 American lives and we save $10 billion that we could be investing in our own American future,” said Bysiewicz.