Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is faulting Republicans in Congress as well as President Barack Obama for exposing the armed forces to big spending cuts.
In an interview for Sunday's broadcast of NBC's "Meet the Press," Romney said "it was a mistake for Republicans" to agree to a deal that will mean automatic cuts in defense spending next year if Congress doesn't negotiate an agreement on the budget.
In a Virginia Beach, Va., rally, Romney solely blamed the president for what he called "unthinkable" potential reductions in military spending. But when it was pointed out in his "Meet the Press" interview that GOP leaders went along with that deal, he said they should not have.
He's promised to roll back past Pentagon cuts and expand the Navy as president.
Specifically, Rommey was asked about the $109 billion automatic spending cut known as the sequester. It is due to hit in January. Some $55 billion comes from the defense budget.
Romney slammed Obama for proposing the cuts, which were floated as a way to force the failed debt supercommittee to strike a deal last fall.
“I want to maintain defense spending at the current level of the GDP. I don't want to keep bringing it down as the president's doing. This sequestration idea of the White House, which is cutting our defense, I think is an extraordinary miscalculation in the wrong direction,” Romney says.
Romney was then pressed on the votes of Republican House leaders, including Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and his GOP running mate Paul Ryan, who also favored the deal. Romney said that was a “big mistake.”
“I thought it was a mistake on the part of the White House to propose it. I think it was a mistake for Republicans to go along with it,” he said.
The debt-ceiling deal was forged by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Vice President Joe Biden hours before the United States was set to exceed its debt ceiling and begin defaulting on its obligations.
Republicans had used the debt ceiling to try to force Obama to reign in spending and later touted the $2.2 trillion in spending reductions including those in the sequester.
Last Spring, the House passed a bill to replace the automatic cuts with a series of cuts to social programs. But Democrats rejected that because the measure does not contain new taxes.
Romney also hit Obama for failing to detail the sequester cuts in a report that was due on Friday.
“The president was responsible for coming out with specific changes they'd make to the defense budget. It was supposed to have come out this last week. He has violated the law that he in fact signed. The American people need to understand how it is that our defense is going to be so badly cut,” he says in the interview.
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