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Obama Hits Romney's Military Spending But Ignores His Own Military Commanders' Call For Sequestration Relief

- October 4, 2012

Obama Criticized Mitt Romney For His Plan To Protect Funding For U.S. National Security. OBAMA: "So, all of this is possible. Now, in order for us to do it, we do have to close our deficit, and one of the things I'm sure we'll be discussing tonight is, how do we deal with our tax code, and how do we make sure that we are reducing spending in a responsible way, but also how do we have enough revenue to make those investments? And this is where there's a difference because Governor Romney's central economic plan calls for a $5 trillion tax cut, on top of the extension of the Bush tax cuts, so that's another $2 trillion, and $2 trillion in additional military spending that the military hasn't asked for. That's $8 trillion. How we pay for that, reduce the deficit and make the investments that we need to make without dumping those costs on the middle-class Americans I think is one of the central questions of this campaign." (President Barack Obama, Presidential Debate, Denver, CO, 10/3/12)

But Under Obama, National Security Faces $1 Trillion In "Devastating" Cuts:

Obama's FY2013 Budget Cuts Defense Spending By $487 Billion Over The Next Ten Years. "An array of military programs, from fighter jets to retiree benefits, would be nicked to squeeze savings in the Pentagon's $525 billion budget for 2013, according to officials and documents released Monday. The proposed 2013 budget represents the Pentagon's first installment in a plan to reduce its projected spending by $487 billion over 10 years. Congress must approve the changes." (Tom Vanden Brook "Pentagon Budget Calls For Cuts To Jets, Benefits," USA Today , 2/13/12)

  • Another $500 Billion Will Be Cut If Sequestration Goes Into Effect In January 2013. "The cuts, roughly $500 billion to both defense and non-defense spending, were set in motion after the supercommittee failed to find more than $1 trillion in deficit reduction last year. The Obama administration has said it's not yet planning for the cuts, instead arguing they were never intended to be implemented and urging Congress to find a fix." (Jeremy Herb, "Pentagon's No. 2 Joining Budget Director At Sequester Hearing," The Hill' s DEFCON Hill , 7/11/12)

The Effects From Defense Cuts Would "'Seriously Damage' Military Readiness." "'We would also be forced to separate many of our civilian personnel involuntarily and, because the reduction would be imposed so quickly, we would almost certainly have to furlough civilians in order to meet the target,' he added, saying that such a move would 'seriously damage' military readiness." (David Alexander, "Panetta Spells Out Budget Cut Doomsday Fears," Reuters, 11/14/11)

  • Sequestration Would Indiscriminately Cut Funding For The War In Afghanistan, Operations In The Persian Gulf, As Well As "Training Programs, Equipment Maintenance And Military Benefits." "Sequestration compounds the damage because the cuts would be automatic and indiscriminate. The Pentagon now concedes that funding for the war in Afghanistan would be hit, contrary to past assurances. So would current operations in the Persian Gulf. Training programs, equipment maintenance and military benefits are affected too. Defense contractor Lockheed Martin says the law obliges it to send layoff warnings as soon as October to most of its 123,000 workers-the kind of manufacturing jobs Democrats claim to love." (Editorial, "The Coming Defense Crack-Up," The Wall Street Journal , 7/20/12)
  • The U.S. Nuclear Deterrent Would Be Weakened By Defense Cuts. "The cuts also could affect the U.S. nuclear deterrent. Panetta said the spending limits could force the Pentagon to delay its next-generation ballistic missile submarine and get rid of its intercontinental ballistic missiles -- two systems maintained to ensure deliver of nuclear weapons if needed." (David Alexander, "Panetta Spells Out Budget Cut Doomsday Fears," Reuters, 11/14/11)
  • "The Budget Would Also Delay The Purchase Of Several Weapons Systems." "The budget also would delay the purchase of several weapons systems - notably 179 of the controversial F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, the most expensive weapons system in U.S. military history." (Nancy Youssef, "Heaviest 2013 Defense Budget Cuts Would Fall On Troops," McClatchy, 2/13/12)
  • The New Defense Budget Will "Reduce Pay Raises To Below Private-Sector Levels." "The Pentagon called for retiring some planes that transport troops, including 27 C-5As and 65 C-130s. It said it planned to reduce pay raises to below private-sector levels, with troops receiving 1.7 percent raises for the next two years, followed by 0.5 percent increases in 2015 and 1 percent hikes in 2016." (Nancy Youssef, "Heaviest 2013 Defense Budget Cuts Would Fall On Troops," McClatchy, 2/13/12)

"Preoccupied By His Re-Election Campaign," Obama Is "Missing In Action" While Top Defense Officials Warn Against Additional Defense Cuts. "Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey calls sequestration 'an unacceptable risk' that will 'increase the likelihood of conflict' in a world with a weaker America. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says it's 'unworkable' and 'a disaster' that will 'hollow out the force and inflict severe damage to our national defense.' The Commander in Chief? Preoccupied by his re-election campaign since, oh, last summer, Mr. Obama is missing in action. Led by California's Buck McKeon, the House of Representatives in May adopted a plan to offset the defense and other cuts due next year with reductions elsewhere in the budget. The White House promised a veto, and Majority Leader Harry Reid won't schedule a Senate vote." (Editorial, "The Coming Defense Crack-Up," The Wall Street Journal, 7/18/12)

  • Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Says Cuts To Defense Will Result In The "Smallest Ground Force Since 1940, The Smallest Number Of Ships Since 1915 And The Smallest Air Force In Its History." "Defense Secretary Leon Panetta spelled out a doomsday scenario Monday that he said could occur if Congress fails to take action to avoid a $1 trillion cut in defense spending over the next decade. Panetta, responding to a letter from Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham, said cuts of nearly $100 billion a year would leave the United States with its smallest ground force since 1940, the smallest number of ships since 1915 and the smallest air force in its history." (David Alexander, "Panetta Spells Out Budget Cut Doomsday Fears," Reuters, 11/14/11)
  • Warning Against More Defense Cuts, Panetta Told Congress To Start Dealing With Entitlement Spending Or "Frankly, You're Not Going To Make It, And You're Going To Hurt This Country's Security." "Defense Secretary Leon Panetta issued a stern rebuke to senators Tuesday, warning against further budget cuts to defense spending and arguing that Congress had to tackle tax increases and entitlement reforms. 'You can't meet the challenge that you're facing in this country by continuing to go back at discretionary spending,' Panetta told lawmakers at a Senate Budget Committee hearing. 'That's less than a third of federal spending. If you're not dealing with the two thirds that is entitlements spending, if you're not dealing with revenue and you keep going back to the same place, frankly you're not going to make it, and you're going to hurt this country's security,' Panetta said." (Jeremy Herb, "Panetta Warns Lawmakers Against Balancing Budget With More Defense Cuts," The Hill 's DEFCON Hill , 2/28/12)
  • Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey: "Sequestration Would Pose Unacceptable Risk" And Lead To "A Hollow Force." DEMPSEY: "I am prepared to say that sequestration would pose unacceptable risk, and here's why. It's important to note, it's pretty clear, there's physics involved. In this budget, we have decided to off-ramp a certain number of service men and women. And we've about maxed out our ability to do that with the proper dignity and respect to the force. So 10 - 15,000 forces a year is about as many as you can ask and still have enough influence on how they do that. That's kind of maxed out right now. It's pretty clear to me that we're going to have some challenges with infrastructure and changes to it whether this committee or others agree to our recommendations on BRAC. So if we fix those two variables in sequestration, I can't get rid of, not get rid of but ask soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines, to leave quicker than they're going to leave. And I can't touch infrastructure. Sequestration leaves me three places to go to find the additional money: operations, maintenance, and training. That's the definition of a hollow force." (Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, Armed Services Committee, U.S. Senate, Testimony, 2/14/12)

Ignoring The Threat To National Security, Obama Has Pledged To "Veto Any Effort To Get Rid Of Those Automatic Spending Cuts To Domestic And Defense Spending." OBAMA: "Already some in Congress are trying to undo these automatic spending cuts. My message to them is simple: No. I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense spending. There will be no easy off ramps on this one. We need to keep the pressure up to compromise, not turn off the pressure." (President Barack Obama, Statement On The Supercommittee, Washington, DC, 11/21/11)

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