Steep military cuts would be irresponsible, lawmaker says

Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., warns big decreases could hurt readiness. Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., warns big decreases could hurt readiness. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Buck McKeon, R-Calif., warned that steep cuts to military funding are ill-advised because of the potential for future conflicts that cannot be foreseen.

"After every war, we've brought down our military so we're not ready for the next time we're attacked,” he said in an interview Thursday that was aired on C-SPAN’s Newsmakers on Sunday. “It's kind of our DNA. I have a real problem with that."

The Defense budget is subjected to large cuts in funding both in Obama's budget and by the automatic cuts, known as the "sequester," that are the result of the super committee's failure to reach an agreement last summer. Those cuts are due to be enacted in 2013, but McKeon said that the problem needs to be solved sooner rather than later.

"I think it is irresponsible to know this is out there, but not pay any attention to it," he said. McKeon touted a bill he introduced in January to pay for the first year of sequestration by reducing the federal workforce by 10 percent through attrition. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta declined to support the bill outright, in part because it lacks bipartisan support.

Though McKeon admitted Defense spending is fair-game for budget cuts, he said the amount of cutting proposed by Obama's budget and the sequester is too much.

"I understand that defense needs to be on the table, just like everything else. All I'm just saying is, why take 50 percent of the savings out of 20 percent of the budget? You know, we need to get to where the real problem is. The Defense Department is not the problem," he said.

"If we keep drawing down and cutting back our military, we're going to just constantly be asking them to do more with less,” he said.

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