Panetta Warns of 'Disaster' from Defense Cuts

Wednesday, 13 Jun 2012 04:34 PM

 

  Comment  |
   Contact  |
  Print   |
    A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Wednesday that automatic, across-the-board defense cuts would be a disaster, with widespread jobs losses and problems for the Pentagon as it tries to pay for health care for military personnel.

The Pentagon chief and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, painted a bleak picture of the military if Congress fails to come up with a budget plan that stops the cuts to defense and domestic programs that kick in Jan. 2. They appealed to Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee to come up with a solution.

Dempsey said the billions for warfighters in Afghanistan would be subject to the cuts. To avoid that drastic step, the Pentagon would look to offset the cuts with reductions in other accounts, he said. Defense comptroller Robert Hale said the president could exempt military personnel from the cuts, but the reductions would affect the department's ability to pay for health care.

Panetta said the automatic cuts "was designed as a meat axe, it was designed as a disaster. ... It would be a disaster."

President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans agreed last summer on a $492 billion reduction in projected defense spending over 10 years. In a deficit-driven step, the budget agreement established a special bipartisan congressional committee to come up with $1.2 trillion in spending cuts. The failure of that committee set in motion the automatic cuts — known as sequestration — that would slash domestic and defense by $1.2 trillion over a decade.

Republicans and Democrats have struggled to come up with a budget to avert the cuts, and an answer may not emerge until after the November election in a lame-duck session. That could prove too late as the fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, chairman of the subcommittee, asked whether the automatic cuts could mean a 1 percent spike in the national unemployment rate, which now stands at 8.2 percent as the economy struggles to recover.

Panetta said he was aware of that estimate. "The Defense Department is not a jobs program, but clearly that kind of sequestration across the board" affects not only service members but contractors, Panetta said.

Panetta criticized the first round of changes that lawmakers have made in Obama's proposed military budget for next year. He said the versions of the defense budget that have emerged from the House and the Senate Armed Services Committee would force him to find money to maintain old weapons, aircraft and ships. He said that step would result in a hollowing out of the force.

He appealed to members of the Senate Appropriations Committee to follow the Defense Department's budget recommendations as it crafts a spending plan for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  Comment  |
   Contact  |
  Print   |
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Obama Executive Order Gives Pay Raise to Federal Workers

Friday, 19 Dec 2014 22:36 PM

Federal workers and uniformed military service members are getting a 1 percent pay boost. . . .

Mental Illness History Ruled on Appeal to Not Bar Gun Ownership

Friday, 19 Dec 2014 22:14 PM

A federal appeals court concluded that a history of mental illness shouldn't bar citizens from owning a weapon in a firs . . .

China Arrests US Aid Worker on North Korean Border

Friday, 19 Dec 2014 21:56 PM

China has arrested an American Christian aid worker based near its border with North Korea, his lawyer said Saturday, as . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved