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Leon Panetta Goes Off: Letting The Sequester Happen Would Be ‘Shameful And Irresponsible’
Outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta warned on “Meet the Press” Sunday that Congress potentially letting the sequester go into effect would be “shameful and irresponsible,” and it would “damage the readiness” of the U.S.
“Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd, who was filling in for David Gregory this week, asked Panetta about the potential effects of the sequester — automatic, across-the-board spending cuts that will affect most areas of government spending beginning on March. Sequestration would force the Pentagon to make across-the-board cuts of 16.3 percent in this year alone.
“I certainly hope not,” Panetta said when asked if he thought the sequester would happen.
“If Congress stands back and allows sequester to take place, I think it would really be a shameful and irresponsible act.”
Panetta said, though, that the Pentagon has to be prepared for it.
“We have to prepare for it, because, you know, there are members up on Capitol Hill that are saying, ‘Oh no, we’re gonna stand back and let sequester happen.’ Let me tell you, if sequester happens, it is gonna badly damage the readiness of the United States of America. We have the most powerful military force on the face of the Earth right now.
“It is important in terms of providing stability and peace in the world. If sequester goes into effect and we have to do the kind of cuts that will go right at readiness, right at maintenance, right at training, we are gonna weaken the United States and make it much more difficult for us to respond to the crises in the world.”
Thus far, neither Republicans nor Democrats have been willing to budge to come to a deal to avert the cuts in the sequester — though neither side, admittedly, wants it to take effect come March 1.
“No one will tell you they want the cuts. But no one will tell you that we’ll definitely make them less damaging,” one House Republican aide told Business Insider last week.
Watch the clip of Panetta below: