Panetta Disappointed over Supercommittee’s Failure
In the wake of the congressional debt supercommittee’s inability to strike a compromise that would avert draconian cuts to the Pentagon’s budget over the next decade, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said he has “never been more concerned about the ability of Congress to forge common-sense solutions to the nation’s pressing problems.”
Unless Congress replaces the $1.2 trillion in government-wide spending cuts triggered by the panel’s failure with an alternate plan before they go into effect in January 2013, the cuts will “tear a seam in the nation’s defense,” according to a written statement Panetta issued Monday.
The secretary also reiterated his warnings about the dire consequences that would result from sequestration: “The half-trillion in additional cuts demanded by sequester would lead to a hollow force incapable of sustaining the missions it is assigned. If implemented, sequester would also jeopardize our ability to provide our troops and their families with the benefits and the support they have been promised. Our troops deserve better, and our nation demands better.”
Congress has more than a year to find an alternative deficit reduction plan — and amend the Budget Control Act passed in August to lift the nation’s debt ceiling — as the first sequester does not kick in until Jan 2, 2013. If that does not occur, $54.7 billion would be extracted from DOD’s budget that year.
That reduction would come on top of an estimated $50 billion cut Pentagon officials are looking for. Last month, Panetta said the five-year budget the department submits to Congress next February along with its fiscal 2013 budget request will include about $250 billion to $260 billion in cuts compared to the existing future years defense program.
Read the story from American Forces Press Service.