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Wed Jun 13, 2012, 12:40 PM

Panetta Warns Of 'Disaster' From Automatic Defense Cuts, With Job Losses, Hit To Health Care [View all]

Source: Associated Press

By DONNA CASSATA | Associated Press | 39 minutes ago in

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Wednesday that automatic, across-the-board defense cuts would be a disaster, with widespread jobs losses and problems for the Pentagon as it tries to pay for health care for military personnel.

The Pentagon chief and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, painted a bleak picture of the military if Congress fails to come up with a budget plan that stops the cuts to defense and domestic programs that kick in Jan. 2. They appealed to Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee to come up with a solution.

Dempsey said the billions for warfighters in Afghanistan would be subject to the cuts. To avoid that drastic step, the Pentagon would look to offset the cuts with reductions in other accounts, he said. Defense comptroller Robert Hale said the president could exempt military personnel from the cuts, but the reductions would affect the department's ability to pay for health care.

Panetta said the automatic cuts "was designed as a meat axe, it was designed as a disaster. ... It would be a disaster."

Read more: http://www.newser.com/article/d9vcbh100/panetta-warns-of-disaster-from-automatic-defense-cuts-with-job-losses-hit-to-health-care.html

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