Panetta calls on Congress to oppose automatic defense cuts [VIDEO]

Nicholas Ballasy Senior Video Reporter
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Testifying on Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta urged Congress to prevent $500 billion in defense cuts from automatically taking effect and doing “untold damage” to America’s national security.

The budget mechanism that would put defense cuts on autopilot “is a crazy process that would do untold damage to our national defense,” Panetta told the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday. “It’s a mechanism that would do just kind of blindsided cuts across the board and would really hollow out the force.”

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The Obama administration originally proposed and congressional negotiators agreed to the automatic cuts, known as “sequestration,” to incentivize the congressional super committee to reach a ten-year deficit reduction agreement. The super committee famously flopped.

“It would be devastating. … Another $500 billion and I’d have to throw the strategy I just presented to you out the window,” Panetta said, speaking about the defense budget for the fiscal year 2013.

Panetta told committee chairman Rep. “Buck” McKeon, a Republican, “I’m prepared to work with you in every way possible to try to work on both sides to try to develop an approach that would de-trigger sequestration.”

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