Defense cuts blasted by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta

San Diego economy will be impacted by cuts

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Leon Panetta blasted Congress for playing politics when it comes to the budget for the military during a speech at Georgetown University on Wednesday.

"This is not a game," he said. "It's reality."

Panetta also confirmed that the USS Harry S. Truman will not deploy next week to the Persian Gulf to save money.

Two aircraft carriers have operated in the Gulf region since 2010 to help protect one of the world's busiest commercial shipping areas.

The legislative act known as sequestration will go into effect March 1 unless there is a budget and will cause $46 billion in military operational cuts this year.  

Aside from holding an aircraft carrier from deploying, the Navy also said that deployments to South America and the Caribbean for counter drug missions are also on hold.

Defense accounts for roughly 25 percent of the economy in San Diego.

If cuts go through, it could be devastating to local shipyards and civilian defense department employees.

"At least 10 planned maintenance contracts for ship repairs would be lost as well as aircraft maintenance work," said Larry Blumberg, the executive director of the San Diego Military Advisory Council.

Panetta said 800,000 civilian defense workers could be subject to furloughs of 22 days over six months.

"That's a 20 percent pay cut when you're furloughed they don't get paid," Blumberg said.

Panetta said the sequestration legislation "was so bad, so bad that anyone in their right mind would not let it happen." 

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