SAN ANTONIO - San Antonio Chamber of Commerce President Richard Perez said if you had asked him a month ago, he was fully optimistic that Congress would reach a deal to avoid sequestration on March 1.
Now, nearly all optimism is gone.
"Congress is at recess right now, right at the most critical time when they need to be in DC trying to figure this thing out," said Perez.
A handful of studies and reports have come out over the last year regarding the effects of sequestration and, regardless of which one you read, the numbers are grim for San Antonio.
Known as "Military City USA," and known for being fairly recession-proof, that protection doesn't extend to mandatory cuts that would greatly affect the military.
"Think about the thousands of employees that are federal employees that have to be on furlough," said Perez, in reference to a Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's message to Congress on Wednesday that most Department of Defense civilian workers would lose 20 percent of their pay for up to 22 weeks.
"Because I don't get paid, that doesn't mean my rent's not due, that my car payment's not due, that my child's tuition's not due," said Perez. "The psychological impact that will have on business people will be devastating. We've just turned the corner, things are looking up, people are excited, people are spending money."
"We can have the same amount of spending cuts but we need to prioritize where we make those kinds of cuts," said Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Dist. 21, on Tuesday.
Perez believes the psychological impact will affect the growth of San Antonio in the immediate future.
"There's a lot of money sitting on the sidelines, businesses have money and they're ready to invest but they're being held back now by this big question of sequestration," Perez said.
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