msnbc | February 26, 2013
>>> hi, everyone. good morning. i'm thomas roberts . developing news, a fiery war of words in the sequester showdown. republicans and democrats blasting each other as the president takes his pr campaign out on the road.
>> we have moved a bill in the house twice. we should not have a move a third bill before the senate gets off their ass and begins to do something. we've acted. where is the president's plan to avoid the sequester? have you seen one?
>> i salute the president for taking the message to the american people . i think what they are doing one deadline after another, little deadline after another is a subtrifuge, not getting it done.
>> the president is going to stand under two massive aircraft carriers and warn of the dire cuts posed to the nation's military. and some 21,000 people at a shipyard saying looming cuts create anxiety and anger.
>> i'll be in the tide water region of virginia where workers will sit idle when it should be fixing ships.
>> even as he engages with the gop, later today at the white house president obama is expected to sit down with two of his troughest critics on the right, john mccain and lindsey graham . they are part of the immigration group and two nominations for the president's second-term cabinet. 19-5, jack lew's bid for treasury to the full senate for a vote and debate is under way on chuck hagel 's nod for defense with the full vote expected today. wait, there's more. also happening today, 75 prominent republicans sign a legal brief coming out in support of marriage equality . this is landmark development and a sign of continuing conflict in the gop. we have a lot of ground to cover. we begin with the showdown over the sequester. across the board automatic cuts will kick in. joining me now is ray mavis, secretary of the navy in new york news. mr. secretary, it's great to have you with me. let's start off, first off, by explaining there's been criticism by the right about the president's pr campaign to go around and talk about what these cuts really mean, the demonstration of it all. and listen to how john boehner has listened to the president on the road.
>> the president has been traveling all over the country and today, going down to newport news in order to use our military men and women as a problem in yet another campaign rally to support his tax hikes.
>> mr. secretary, how do you respond to that? do you think the president is using our nation's military as a prop?
>> well, the military leadership of this nation, both in uniform and civilian, is going to capitol hill for the last year and explaining how bad sequestration would be, what a bad idea this would be, how it would impact military readiness and how it would impact the ability of the navy, marine corps , and the other parts of the military to defend this country. and i think it's important for the president and for everybody to talk about what this means to talk about how damaging this will be to the men and women of our military, to the people who support them, to the people who work at places like newport news ship building and all around the norfolk area of virginia and in this country. this is a bad idea. this was a bad idea at the beginning. it was never supposed to happen. and now that we're at the 11th hour, it hasn't gotten any better and i think it's incredibly important that we explain exactly what will happen. we didn't deploy the truman and our strike group to the middle east because of this sequestration. we have two aircraft carriers , one being built now and one about to be built that could be stopped or certainly delayed in sequestration hits and sticks. those are real impacts to america's military readiness.
>> sir, i want to point out what will happen. as we point out the area around hampton road . the army base operation funding could be cut by $146 million. the air force funding for air force operations cut by $8 million. the navy canceling the maintenance of 11 ships in norfolk and 90,000 civilian employees furloughed and you point out that the truman not deploying for the middle east . where do you think the right and left can meet in the middle ? do you agree that there are areas in the defense budget that need to be re-examined and better allocated?
>> absolutely. we need to make smart cuts in defense. we need to make cuts that won't affect our national security . the president has presented a balanced plan that matches up with strategy and a very comprehensive plan to avoid sequestration, to make the adjustment and cuts to the defense that are needed for the future but make them in a smart way, not in this meat-ax approach and mindless way that both sequestration and the continuing resolution which we will lurch to another artificial budget crisis until something is done. we just cannot run a military lurching from one budget crisis to another. we've got to have some certainty and i think the president has submitted a very comprehensive plan that will require compromise but that's what the job of this government ought to be about. that's what congress needs to take up and make sure that this does not have the impact that it is going to have, both on the workers, the federal workers at our federal shipyard here that will lose up to 20% of their salary and not on the workers at private shipyards like newport news and other shipyards in this area. those are huge numbers in terms of workers that will be affected, in terms of the ripple effect that goes out from that. and in terms of what it does to the navy and to the marine corps . the job of the navy, the job of the marine corps , the job of the rest of our military is to protect this country. and sequestration and the continuing resolution and the uncertainty and threats that those pose make those jobs much harder to do.
>> secretary ray mabus of the u.s. navy . thanks for your