Panetta issues warning on defense cuts

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WASHINGTON--Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned Sunday that it would be "disastrous" for Congress to allow cuts in defense spending as scheduled in January.

In an interview that aired on ABC's "This Week," Mr. Panetta said the Pentagon "has to play a role in trying to be able to achieve fiscal responsibility," but warned against allowing the cuts, which would take place as a result of the failure to reach a deficit reduction deal last year. The cuts to Medicare and defense spending are to be made through a process known as sequestration.

"I think what both Republicans and Democrats need to do, and the leaders on both sides, is to recognize that if sequester takes place, it would be disastrous for our national defense and very frankly for a lot of very important domestic programs," Mr. Panetta said. "They have a responsibility to come together, find the money necessary to de-trigger sequester. That's what they ought to be working on now."

He also responded to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's criticism of the Obama administration's public announcement of withdrawal plans for Afghanistan.

Mr. Panetta dismissed Mr. Romney's criticism as "campaign rhetoric."


First Published May 28, 2012 12:00 AM


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