What Our Leaders Are Saying

If we end up in this situation … exactly who are we going to go to? The Chinese? The Russians? You don’t want to end up here. — Barry Watts, defense analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments

This sequester was never intended to be policy. It was meant to be something both parties wished to avoid, in order to motivate members of the supercommittee to work together.… There is strong bipartisan agreement that the sequester is bad policy and should be replaced. — Representatives Howard “Buck” McKeon and Paul Ryan

There isn’t any member I’ve talked to that doesn’t think that sequester is a disaster.… All of them understand that it’s the wrong way to go. And I just have to hope that ultimately, they will find the courage and leadership to be able to address that issue, de-trigger sequester, deal with the other challenges that are out there and try to do it as soon as possible because frankly, the longer this drags on, the more of an impact it has in terms of the planning process and in terms of the budget process. And frankly, even though we’re not planning for sequester to take place because it is such a disastrous step if it occurs, it still has an impact within the department and outside the department for planning purposes. — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta

We’ll have those who attempt to exploit our vulnerabilities…We might lose our credibility in terms of our ability to deter. — Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno

[H]aving served in the Congress and having worked on budget issues most of the time I was in Congress, I’m very concerned that the Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, have to show leadership here, and can’t just allow sequestration to take effect. I mean, the whole purpose of sequestration, or even developing a crazy vehicle like that, was to ensure that they would exercise leadership to prevent it from happening. Instead, they weren’t able to come together on any proposal and now we have this thing supposedly taking place in January. — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta

I believe there is a foundational level of space support that we must sustain to continue to enable to America’s military operations–across that entire spectrum of conflict. Cutting below this foundational level, the level I believe we’re already very close to, would likely have cascading effects across the entire DoD. — Gen. William Shelton, Commander, Air Force Space Command

Even the most thoroughly deliberated strategy may not be able to overcome dire consequences. — Air Force Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz

The Pentagon shouldn’t be and hasn’t been immune to spending reductions, but it is reckless and irresponsible to make arbitrary cuts to programs vital to our national defense. — Rep. Kevin McCarthy

When commenting on the effects of sequestration: “Our military will cease to operate as we know it today. They can’t. They don’t have the resources. We will not be able to have the presence that we need to have in certain areas of this world. And it’s frightening. — Rep. Martha Roby

These devastating additional $500 billion in proposed cuts to our military forces would take effect just three months into the new fiscal year. The Defense Department cannot wait until after this year’s elections to address this issue. We need to fix it now. President Obama has already gutted our military with the defense cuts contained in his budget. Adding sequestration cuts on top of that will have irreparable consequences. — Sen. James Inhofe

A Marine Corps below the end strength that’s necessary to support even one major contingency. — Marine Commandant James Amos.

The president has made clear that Congress can and should act to avoid the sequester. The intention of the sequester was to drive Congress to a compromise through the threat of mutually disagreeable cuts to both defense and non-defense discretionary funding. If allowed to occur, the sequester would be highly destructive to national security and domestic priorities and core government functions. — Office of Management and Budget controller Daniel Werfel

(Cutting) in some kind of blind fashion that basically hits everything … is going to result in hollowing out the force. We cannot tolerate that. We still risk too many threats out there to weaken our defense. — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta

Even though it would be proportionately applied to the Marine Corps, the effects would be disproportionate because our numbers are so small and our budget is so small that in some cases it would cause us to end up canceling programs and not being able to reset after 11 years of combat coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan…. Quite honestly, it would stop any kind of modernization. So it’s very, very dangerous. — Marine Corps Commandant General Jim Amos

[T]he shadow of sequestration is there. And I don’t think we’re kidding anybody by saying that somehow, it’s not having some impact. Clearly…the industrial community is concerned about the potential for its impact. It continues to be a concern that we have as far as the possibility that that could happen. — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta

We will have no American access to, and return from, low Earth orbit and the International Space Station for an unpredictable length of time in the future. For a country that has invested so much for so long to achieve a leadership position in space exploration and exploitation, this condition is viewed by many as lamentably embarrassing and unacceptable. — Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong

The thing that worries me most is that people talk about the defense budget as though that’s where the deficits and the debt have incurred. You could wipe out the entire defense budget and not solve the debt problem. — Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

I become more convinced than ever that as a nation, we can ill afford to lose our edge … Cut too deeply and we will burn the very blanket of protection we’ve been charged to provide our fellow citizens. Cut too deeply now and we will harm, perhaps irreparably, the industrial base from which we procure the materials of war. — Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen

Without a doubt, GPS, the satellite-based navigation system that has revolutionized travel by car and truck, even by foot, could do the same for commercial air traffic. … The system is expected to reduce delays by more than a third, saving billions of dollars for airline companies and for the traveling public. This would mean consuming less jet fuel, so carbon emissions would be lower, too. — Former Director of the Office of Management and Budget Peter Orszag

We are not going to solve the national debt challenge on the back of the military. There are whole host of other issues that have to be addressed in order to significantly reduce that debt. — Former Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen

If there’s one thing that we have bipartisan agreement on, if there’s one area where we agree with the president and the secretary of defense, it’s that this sequester will decimate our military at a time when our men and women are overseas fighting in a war, in a world that has become much more dangerous. — Rep. Paul Ryan

The first responsibility of government is to protect the American people. It’s important to have priorities and a strategy and know what you would like to do and then fund against those priorities and those strategies. — Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

[W]hat even makes sequestration worse is we have no say in where the cuts come. It is directed across every element of our budget, and it’s a certain percentage. So what that would cause us to do is increase the pace of our end strength reductions. It would cause a hollowness—significant hollowness in the force. It would probably cause us to breach many contracts that we already have in place because we would not meet the current requirements that we have on our developmental contracts. So it would affect every asset that we have in every area. So that’s the concern. — Army Chief of Staff, General Raymond Odierno

We elected to put ADS-B into the Gulf for a good reason. It’s a huge return; [operators] move 10,000 people a day in and out of those rigs in the Gulf. It’s phenomenal: the number of people we move every single day out there and the amount of traffic out there that is so much safer. — FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt

It is not unrealistic to foresee a day in which the U.S. defense industry no longer possesses the design or production capabilities for certain weapons systems,” Indeed, this has already happened to the United Kingdom in the case of nuclear attack submarines. — Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, “Sustaining Critical Sectors of the U.S. Defense Industrial Base,” released 20 September 2011

I believe in free enterprise, I believe in freedom, I believe in liberty, I believe in an opportunity society. And everything I do will be designed to strengthen the values of this country, to strengthen the families of this country, to strengthen our economy and to keep a military that is second to none in the world. — Mitt Romney, presidential candidate

People go away, skills go away and the enormity of the investment to bring it back if you’ve got that wrong, it’s not going to be there. — Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen

[W]hen it comes to what’s going to happen to our military with these cuts in January, you can imagine that there are a lot of people concerned. The Defense Secretary’s made clear that these cuts will devastate out ability to keep our country safe. The White House has admitted that these cuts will have a devastating impact on our military. So where is their plan? It’s as simple as that. — Speaker of the House John Boehner

In my judgment, the Navy, with its capital-intensive shipbuilding, procurement and maintenance accounts, could be the service that would be most adversely affected. — Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona

The good news is that I can’t find anyone around here who actually thinks this is a good idea. Everybody agrees that this would be catastrophic. The bad news is that we can’t find enough people around here who want to do anything about it right away. — Sen. Marco Rubio

[Sequestration] would have a devastating effect on not only national defense but I think on the rest of the country. It’s totally unacceptable, and frankly our political leaders cannot allow it to happen. That’s where I’m coming from on this issue. — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta

We all agree that the Defense Department must eliminate wasteful programs and continue to find efficiencies; however, our defense policy is becoming less about military strategy and more about fiscal strategy. Officials are forced to align resources to reflect arbitrary budget numbers rather than actual threats confronting the United States.… At a minimum, we have to prevent the across-the-board cuts from taking full effect in 2013. — Senators Jon Kyl, Marco Rubio, Kelly Ayotte, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and John Cornyn

The first responsibility of the United States government is to provide for the common defense. Without further action by the Senate and the Obama Administration, significant across the board cuts to defense will take place in January of next year as part of the sequestration process resulting from the failure of legislators to reach an agreement on how to reduce the deficit. This sequestration process came about as a result of the Budget Control Act that raised the debt ceiling—which I voted against. — Rep. Vicky Hartzler

Under current law, on January 1, 2013, there’s going to be a massive fiscal cliff of large spending cuts and tax increases,” Bernanke told the House Financial Services Committee. “I hope that Congress will look at that and figure out ways to achieve the same long-run fiscal improvement without having it all happen at one date — Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke

A severe and irreversible impact on the Navy’s future. — Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, chief of naval operations

Cuts of this magnitude would be catastrophic to the military…My assessment is that the nation would incur an unacceptable level of strategic and operational risk. — Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno

Today, we are on a path of decay. We are seeing the book close on five decades of accomplishment as the leader in human space exploration. As unimaginable as it seems, we have now come full circle and ceded our leadership role in space back to the same country — albeit by a different name — that spurred our challenge five decades ago. — Apollo 17 Commander Eugene Cernan

If the Congress is irresponsible enough to suddenly turn on this sequester idea because they failed to meet their responsibility, that would clearly damage our national defense. — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta

[T]here’s no disagreement about the need to replace the meat ax cuts from the sequester with an alternative approach to reducing the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion. And I want to emphasize that fact. The meat-ax across-the-board cuts to both defense and non-defense are a reckless way to reduce the deficit. And we need a responsible alternative. — Rep. Chris Van Hollen