BATH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The people running for Congress and the U.S. Senate-and for President of the United States-are facing more questions about the possibility of massive budget cuts and tax increases. It's called the "Fiscal Cliff."
Because Congress hasn't been able to agree on a plan to reduce the deficit and debt, automatic budget cuts and tax hikes are scheduled to take place January second. The defense budget, which provides thousands of jobs at Bath Iron Works and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, would take a major hit if those automatic cuts go through. U.S. Senator Susan Collins says defense would absorb 40% of the cuts.
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, who is running for re-election, brought Washington Rep. Adam Smith to BIW today. He is the top Democrat on the House Armed Service Committee, which will have to deal with any defense cuts. Pingree Smith both said they think some cuts will have to be made, but that Navy shipbuilding needs to be protected, and will be. Pingree's opponent, Republican Jon Courtney, agreed that those defense jobs are crucial. He called the potential cuts and tax hikes "catastrophic", and said the two parties in Congress need to be able to work together to find better solutions.
Sen. Collins told NEWS CENTER the full Congress will try to find an alternative to the fiscal cliff when it returns in November for a so-called "lame duck" session - but Collins says she's worried the two sides will still not be able to come together on an alternative plan.