As he leaves, Panetta says sequester is biggest concern
February 3rd, 2013
09:52 AM ET
2 years ago

As he leaves, Panetta says sequester is biggest concern

(CNN) – Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Sunday his "biggest concern" right now is the uncertainty over budget issues on Capitol Hill.

"If the sequester is allowed to go into effect, I think it could seriously impact on the readiness in the United States," he said on CNN's "State of the Union." "And that's a serious issue."

The U.S. military could face the start of $500 billion in budget cuts in about a month if Congress fails to come up with a budget plan that avoids the so-called sequester, a serious of automatic, across-the-board spending cuts spread out over the next decade.

The sequester was originally set to kick in at the beginning of 2013, but a scaled-back fiscal cliff deal managed to postpone the cuts from triggering until a couple of months down the road.

"We have the strongest military power on earth. But we - and we're dealing with a lot of threats in today's world," Panetta said.

Lawmakers who opposed the sequester frequently pointed to Panetta's opposition to it. He has previously said the cuts could be "devastating" to the military and represent a "meat ax" approach to budget-cutting.

Panetta in January ordered the military to begin implementing cost-cutting measures aimed at mitigating the effects of significant budget cuts that would occur if Congress fails to reach a deal in coming months to avert or soften them.

Military departments were told to report on how they would implement the deep automatic spending cuts of the sequester and enforce unpaid leave for civilian employees should the reductions occur.

"I couldn't agree more. We face a true readiness crisis," Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, added.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.


Filed under: Congress • Debt • Deficit • Leon Panetta • Martin Dempsey • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Larry L

    A Constitutional Amendment is long overdue to stop all pay and benefits for the Congress, the President, and their first-level staff members for every day of the respective fiscal year that an approved federal budget isn't available. A continuing resolution or a sequester plan would not count as a budget. That money would never be returned and those days lost would not count towards their Federal retirement. It's their most basic job and their failure makes it impossible to plan and execute the mission effectively. Get those petitions started!

    February 3, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  2. vic , nashville ,tn

    Every three months congress will kick the can (sequester) down the road

    February 3, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  3. Randy, San Francisco

    The blame falls squarely on Republicans who allowed Tea Pary and fiscal extremists to capture their party. Politics used to be the art of compromise which worked well for 30-40 years after World War II.

    February 3, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  4. Larry L

    What other business would pay their leadership for failing at their most basic and critical responsibility?

    February 3, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  5. nothing new here

    Government officials should all take a pay cut. Enough already.
    As for the military – our military is bloated, just like everything else in government. There is no reason for all this waste. There is also no reason for our military to be "policeman of the world". When is the rest of the world going to grow up?

    February 3, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  6. Gonzo

    At some point this country has to balance the books!!! Enough with unnecessary defense spending and unneeded domestic programs. This administration obviously (this is what they're experts at) will blame the lack of money on the Republicans, and any foreign or domestic problems on the lack of money. Once again, their PERFORMANCE will be media-driven perfection while everyone else gets the blame for their gross incompetence. BOTH parties are to blame, including this inept presidency.

    February 3, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  7. labman57

    Billions of dollars are wasted each year by the Defense Department on unnecessary and extremely costly military excursions into foreign lands, security and maintenance of a bloated nuclear arsenal, and on overpriced, overrated, and unneeded military vehicles and equipment projects to satiate the needs of corporate defense contractors.

    Rather than simply eliminate these monies from the federal budget, we should strive for a lateral shift in spending, using these funds for desperately needed infrastructural projects at home - including roads, highways, and bridges, fresh water distribution and power grids, high speed telecommunications, digital security, and public school building maintenance and construction.

    February 3, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  8. Rick McDaniel

    Soooooo, you obviously made no impression on your boss, about the fact he was squandering too much money on stupid projects, like the failed Solyndra, while not funding the military protections needed by the country.

    What if, he had actually provided the military with all of the funds he wasted on "environmental" companies that were ALL failures?????? Wouldn't we be farther ahead NOW?

    February 3, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |