Legion scolds supercommittee

National commander “profoundly disappointed” by impasse, concerned about national security consequences.

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Legion scolds supercommittee
Automatic cuts in defense spending due to the failure of the bipartisan Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction leaves the future of America's military and many veterans services in question. DoD photo

American Legion National Commander Fang A. Wong says he is “profoundly disappointed” that the bipartisan Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the so-called “supercommittee”) failed to reach an agreement to cut $1.2 trillion from the federal budget over the next decade.

“They were given an important job to do, and they failed,” Wong said. “What this means to the future of our military and our veterans remains to be seen, but the challenges have now intensified for those who believe in a strong national defense and want to protect the hard-earned benefits of veterans. We are profoundly disappointed in the work of this committee.”

The failure to reach an agreement triggers $1.2 trillion in budget cuts set to take effect in January 2013.  Among the reductions is an automatic $492 billion in defense spending.

The Department of Defense is already cutting about $450 billion from its budget over the next decade, so the additional cuts required by sequestration would bring the entire 10-year reduction to nearly $1 trillion – a figure that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta claims "would leave to hollow force incapable of sustaining the missions it is assigned."

In a letter to the ranking Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John McCain, R-Ariz., Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said the automatic cuts would roll back ground forces to pre-World War II levels, leave the Navy with a fleet the size of the one in the years before World War I, and reduce the Air Force to its smallest size ever.

“That may be the worst-case scenario, but it could certainly occur unless these automatic cuts are rolled back between now and 2013,” Wong said. “There is still time to avoid Panetta’s nightmare, but we need to use it wisely in pressuring our lawmakers to make sure the Department of Defense has adequate funding to do its vital job.”

The deadlock also triggers another $492 billion in federal cuts starting in 2013 from health, education, drug enforcement, national parks, agriculture programs and social programs.

“Even if VA is OK,  that doesn’t mean all veterans’ support programs are necessarily protected, because not all of them are administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs,” American Legion Legislative Division Deputy Director Ian de Planque explained. In recent remarks to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, de Planque noted the vulnerability of veterans’ jobs and homeless programs within the Departments of Labor and  Housing and Urban Development.

“That,” said Tim Tetz, director of the Legion’s Legislative Division, “is another good reason to keep up strong post-supercommittee pressure on Congress. Restricting Labor and Housing and Urban Development efforts on behalf of veterans could really damage VA Secretary (Eric) Shinseki’s efforts to end homelessness among veterans, and even the president’s work to curtail veteran joblessness.”

“Because the supercommittee failed to do its job,” Wong said, “it is critically important for us to do ours as advocates. It is vitally important to the future of our nation that Congress does what it must to protect the safety of our nation and the rights of our veterans.”

 

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Arthur Miller

December 9, 2013 - 4:34pm

All we have to do is look back in history at nations who were reduced to 3rd worled by another nation that spent its time gobeling up smaller nations and building up enough power to destroy the the larger nation who grew complacet while a much smaller nation built up its military power and concured the big nation who fell asleep. Is that what we want to hapen to the USA.

Donald Roll

February 22, 2012 - 12:13pm

When are the American People going to wake up?? They always saying why doesn't the Government Do Something about it.... Well folks the Government has been doing something about it since 1929,,,, that's what got us to where we are now.... It is way past time to remove all incumbuent Politicians from Office... Now is the TIME !!!! Donald Roll

REDBARRON

January 14, 2012 - 5:00pm

THE ENEMY IS WITH IN THIS COUNTRY.CHINA,RUSSIA AND MEXICO PERSONAL.THEY ARE BUYING UP LAND ALL OVER THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

Panentheist

December 13, 2011 - 7:41pm

In my most recent comment of the "Subject" box entitled above "Disapproval Rating For The 'Supercommittee' and Congress", the intended word was consensus located in the first sentence, but was misspelled as being "concensus." Therefore, "consensus" is the correct word spelling.

Panentheist

December 13, 2011 - 7:22pm

In my most recent comment of the "Subject" box entitled above "Disapproval Rating For The 'Supercommittee' and Congress", the intended word was responsible located in the third sentence, but was misspelled as being "reponsible." Therefore, "responsible" is the correct word spelling.

Panentheist

December 13, 2011 - 6:42pm

According to recent polls conducted, and reported by NPR (National Public Radio) and MPBN (Maine Public Broadcasting Network) radio, Congress can boast an approval rating from the concensus of the American people of "9 percent." There is no doubt in my mind our legislators (in both the U.S. House and Senate) have a long road ahead of them to gain and retain the American people's trust. They're simply not performing up to the expectations of their constituents that elected them to office, to serve the American people's interests in an efficient ethical, moral, and politically reponsible manner. Too much talk and debate, and not enough productivity; especially in the nations' lawmakers' poor judgement in failing to discern on the need to prioritize, and in this case the nations' defense budget allocation. There is no doubt and ambiguity in my mind that America is a nation surrounded by a dangerous, violent, and avaricious world of humanity; and that there are nations, and terrorist organizations who would seek and act to do the United States irreparable harm; al Qaida notwithstanding, and therefore, to reach an "impasse" on the nations' defense budget amongst our elected oficials in Congress is both intolerable and unacceptable. We NEED NOT and MUST NOT, extend an invitation to al Qaida and other terrorist groups, to perform a repetition of the tragedy of 09/11/01 due to America's, and the global community's economic demise and consequential financial indebtedness.

billy.w.cook

November 22, 2011 - 1:47pm

Does anyone really expect anything different from a Congress that has done nothing to help this country for over thirty years?? I know this much, when both main political parties put their agenda ahead of national good, it's time some major changes take place in this country. I don't know where we are headed as a nation; but,I highly suspect it's at best 3rd wold country status

Samuel L Chang

November 21, 2011 - 9:06pm

Gen. Pershing was one of history's greatest military leaders. His appreciation of The American Legion is a reflection of his admiration for those who did the fighting. He was a true warrior.

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