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Sec. of Defense Panetta Calls Potential Cuts 'Unacceptable,' Wants 'Revenues

"you also have to look at revenues as part of that answer"

Some leaders at the Pentagon are unhappy about Tuesday's debt debate deal.

Automatic spending cuts in the agreement are a "doomsday mechanism" that would "do real damage to our security, our troops and their families, and our military's ability to protect the nation," new Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said on Thursday.

Tuesday's deal puts the Defense Department on track to lose more than $345 billion over the next 10 years, and if politicians still can't come up with a different solution soon, the deals indicates an additional $1.2 trillion will be taken in automatic cuts. Half of those cuts would come from the Pentagon budget.

Those cuts in place now are manageable Panetta says, but the automatic ones that come into play only if lawmakers cannot reach an additional agreement, go beyond thrifty budgeting.

"It is an outcome that would be completely unacceptable to me as secretary of defense, to the president and I believe to our nation's leaders," Mr. Panetta said. "Most importantly, it would be unacceptable to the American people."

Panetta addresses the press in this video, saying in many ways he was already expecting but will still be tough to undertake. He talks about his concern over what would happen if lawmakers aren't able to come to a further conclusion around timecode 3:05:

So what is Panetta's solution? The New York Times quotes him as toeing the administration line on "revenues:"

"You cannot deal with the size deficits that this country is confronting by simply cutting the discretionary side of the budget... You’ve got to, as the president’s made clear, if you’re going to look at those size deficits, you’ve got to look at the mandatory side of the budget, which is two-thirds of the federal budget. And you also have to look at revenues as part of that answer."

This was Panetta's first news conference since he undertook the role of defense secretary in July. Other Pentagon officials seconded his concerns.

The Pentagon has requested $553 billion from Congress for its 2012 base budget. That request does not include money to fight the country's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A defense official estimates lawmakers will cut that base number by around $27 billion in order to achieve their goal of trimming $350 billion off of the defense budget over the next 10 years. Those looming automatic cuts would mean an additional $50 billion to $60 billion annually out of the department's base budget, an official said.

The Pentagon's 2012 fiscal year begins in October.

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