The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Tuesday that all 3,000 accounts in the Pentagon's budget would be affected if automatic, across-the-board spending cuts occur in January.
"This is the kind of mindless budgeting I think needs to be avoided," Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, said at the National Press Club. "We've got to make hard choices."
The automatic spending cuts are set to begin Jan. 2 unless Democrats and Republicans agree on how to reduce the $1.2 trillion in budget deficit. A major sticking point has been over raising taxes.
"Historically, revenue has been about 19 to 20 percent of our gross domestic product. Today it's closer to 15 percent," Mr. Levin said. "And yet we have Republican leadership drawing an absolute line in the sand against additional revenue."
He expressed confidence that Congress eventually will avoid the automatic cuts, known as sequestration.
"I am confident that we will avoid sequestration, but if it comes in the lame-duck [session of Congress] or thereafter, it could come too late in order to avoid a severe weakening of the economy that results from the prospect of sequestration," he said.
"That's the greater challenge we face — to see if we can't possibly reach the kind of compromise which we know will be there in the end, but to do it in time to avoid this mindless and very dangerous weakening of the economy."
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