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Everything must be on table in deficit reduction: Pentagon chief

(Xinhua)

08:42, February 29, 2012

WASHINGTON, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Tuesday reiterated his demand that the responsibility to reduce the deficit cannot be borne by defense alone.

"No budget can be balanced on the back of discretionary spending alone," he said at a Senate Budget Committee hearing. " Based on my own budget experience, I strongly believe that all areas of the federal budget must be put on the table -- not just discretionary, but mandatory spending and revenues."

Panetta detailed U.S. President Barack Obama's fiscal 2013 defense budget request -- 525.4 billion U.S. dollars for base budget plus 88.5 billion dollars for overseas contingency operations.

The budget blueprint puts the department on the road to reduce spending by 487 billion dollars over the next 10 years. It does not, however, account for more than 500 billion dollars in additional cuts that will go into effect in January if Congress doesn't act to stop it.

Those additional cuts, known as "sequestration," were written into the Budget Control Act as automatic, across-the-board cuts to the federal budget if members of a congressional "super committee" could not agree on spending cuts by a November deadline. And they didn't.

The White House on Tuesday again blamed congressional Republicans for the failure of the "super committee."

"The reason why we do not have ... legislation passed into law that would render the sequester null and void is because of a refusal by, unfortunately, Republicans in Congress to deal with the obvious fact that to balance -- to get our fiscal house in order, to deal with our deficit and debt, we need to take a balanced approach," White House press secretary Jay Carney said in his daily briefing.

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