Panetta: We Can Take the Cuts, But Not the Trigger

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The nation’s military can swallow the basic budget cuts in the new debt deal, but not the more drastic slashing that would take place if the “trigger” sets in, according to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

The debt deal calls for about $350 billion in Pentagon cuts over the next 10 years. But if by Thanksgiving a special congressional panel fails to come up with $1.5 trillion more in overall government savings over the next decade, an automatic $1.2 billion cut kicks in over that period — and half of that will come out of the Pentagon’s hide.

In a note to Pentagon workers Wednesday, Panetta wrote that the military can’t handle that so-called “enforcement mechanism.” Panetta wrote that, “If that happens, it could trigger a round of dangerous across-the-board defense cuts that would do real damage to our security, our troops and their families, and our ability to protect the nation.”

Have no fear, Leon. I’m sure Congress will assemble the committee thoughtfully, they will come to a measured bipartisan compromise that will not take a hatchet to the Pentagon, that compromise will sail easily though Congress, and the president will sign it. What could possibly go wrong?