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Panetta: Defense Budget Cuts Will Damage Economy

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is laying out a grim list of spending cuts the Pentagon will have to make in the coming weeks that he says will seriously damage the country’s economy and degrade the military’s ability to respond to a crisis.

He is slamming members of Congress as irresponsible and willing to push the country off a fiscal cliff to damage their opposing political parties.

He says if Congress doesn’t pass a budget the Pentagon must absorb $46 billion in spending reductions in this fiscal year and will face a $35 billion shortfall in operating expenses.

The military services are warning of widespread civilian furloughs, layoffs and hiring freezes. The Navy says it will cease deployments to South America and the Caribbean and limit those to Europe.

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