The US Senate Budget Committee takes a look at the 2013 proposed Pentagon budget, in which President Obama wants to cut $32 billion from the $645 billion package, with additional cost trimming the following years.
During a hearing Tuesday, Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson notes defense spending, compared to overall federal spending, continues to shrink: from 43 percent in the 1960s, to the last three decades around 18 percent, and next year’s will be 16 percent.
The Republican lawmaker said he believes national defense should be the government’s top priority: “Our federal government has changed its focus from really defending the nation to really protecting entitlements.”
Johnson asked Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, why the President has no proposed plan to save Social Security, a program facing ballooning costs in coming years.
“If I was an OMB Director I could engage with you on that. I’m the defense secretary and that’s what I focus on,” said Panetta. He echoed concerns about entitlement costs saying “with these record deficits no budget can be balanced on the back of defense spending alone.”
AUDIO: Johnson questioning Panetta on entitlements (1:30)
The Defense Secretary said the military can absorb the $487 million to be cut in the next decade, but it cannot handle another $500 million in proposed reductions.
Earlier version erroneously reported Armed Services Committee. We apologize for any confusion.