Failure to cut debt will jeopardise US security: Panetta
US Defence Secretary Leon Pannetta has expressed displeasure over the congressional super-committee's failure to reach a consensus on the debt reduction plan. US faces nearly $1.3 trillion deficit in the fiscal year by September.
If US Congress fails to take steps toward debt reduction over the next year, the Pentagon will face devastating, automatic, across-the-board cuts that will tear a seam in the nation's defence, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta warned on Monday.
"In my four decades involved with public service, I have never been more concerned about the ability of Congress to forge common-sense solutions to the nation's pressing problems," Panetta said in a statement expressing his deep disappointment over the failure of a debt super committee to reach an agreement on reducing the country's galloping debt.
The failure of the congressional super committee to reach an agreement on deficit reduction is a setback for the country's efforts to achieve fiscal responsibility while protecting our national security, he said.
"Since becoming Secretary of Defence, I have made it clear that the department has a responsibility to help the country get its fiscal house in order -- and we are doing that. I have been leading a strategy-driven effort to achieve the more than USD 450 billion in cuts over 10 years required by the Budget Control Act. We will move ahead with that plan," Panetta said.
Panetta said the half-trillion in additional cuts demanded by sequester would lead to a hollow force incapable of sustaining the missions it is assigned.
"If implemented, sequester would also jeopardise ourability to provide our troops and their families with the benefits and the support they have been promised. Our troops deserve better and our nation demands better," he said. Other Cabinet members of the Obama Administration also expressed their disappointment that the super committee failed to reach a final deal.
"We must reduce America's debt. But we must do so in a thoughtful and deliberate way that protects national priorities like education at such a critical time," said Education Secretary Arne Duncan. "We need to ensure that every child has access to a good teacher and a high quality public education and that students who want to pursue a college degree can count on federal loans and grants to help them achieve their dreams," he said.
"Because the supercommittee failed to reach an agreement, we now face across-the-board cuts to programmes that are critical to rebuilding our crumbling transportation infrastructure and putting Americans back to work," said Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood.
"The American people want common-sense, bipartisansolutions that take a balanced approach to reducing the deficit while protecting critical transportation investments that create jobs and allow our economy to grow," he said.
Asked to reduce the defence budget by $ 487 billion over the next decade, the Pentagon is faced with challenge to maintain a force strong enough to meet the challenges of the future, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has said.