The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Nation & World

April 11, 2013

Hagel: Job not to cut heart out of Pentagon

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel rejected the suggestion that President Barack Obama tapped him to "cut the heart out of the Pentagon," pointedly reminding lawmakers Thursday that Congress approved the smaller, deficit-driven military budgets long before he took the job.

Faced with a $487 billion budget cut over a decade, Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Pentagon had no choice in drawing up the politically unpopular reductions in the president's proposed $526.6 billion budget for next year.

The blueprint calls for another round of domestic base closures, higher health care fees for retirees and their dependents, and a smaller pay raise for personnel. Dempsey cast the choice as between a well-compensated force and the readiness of the nation's war fighters.

Cost-conscious lawmakers have clamored for fiscal austerity in a period of trillion-dollar deficits, but often balk when the cuts hit military bases in their home states or affect powerful veterans' groups. That disconnect was on stark display during the nearly four hours the Pentagon leaders testified before the House Armed Services Committee.

In one exchange, Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, questioned Hagel on what his role is — managing the decline in defense spending or warning of the dangers of military cuts.

"There is a widespread view that you were brought into the Pentagon to cut defense," Thornberry told Hagel.

The secretary, on the job six weeks, said the cuts were law, part of the budget agreement reached between Obama and congressional Republicans in August 2011. Added to those reductions are $41 billion in automatic, across-the-board cuts, commonly known as sequestration.

Military leaders have warned that the automatic cuts would do harm to the military, but deficit hawks in Congress prevailed over defense hawks and the cuts kicked in March 1. Tea partyers, Republicans and Democrats continued to disagree over whether to reverse them.

Text Only
Nation & World
  • Israel pushes deeper in Gaza after soldier seized Backed by tank fire and airstrikes, Israeli forces pushed deep into southern Gaza on Friday, searching for an Israeli army officer believed to be captured by Hamas fighters during deadly clashes that shattered an internationally brokered cease-fire.

    August 1, 2014

  • Gas Prices [Duplicate] Rare summer relief for gasoline prices The gasoline price roller coaster is running a strange course this summer.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_immigratonreform.jpg House GOP weighs tough new immigration bills

    House Republicans pushed legislation on Friday that would clear the way for eventual deportation of more than 500,000 immigrants brought here illegally as kids and address the surge of immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Semi crash coats I-465 in butter

    A semitrailer has overturned on an Indianapolis interstate, spilling what police say are 45,000 pounds of packages of butter and other dairy products.

    August 1, 2014

  • Investigators make it to Ukraine jet crash site

    As fighting raged in eastern Ukraine, an international team of investigators on Thursday reached the crash site of the Malaysia Airline Flight 17 and got a first look at where it was brought down by a missile two weeks ago.

    July 31, 2014

  • Ticket me Elmo? NYC mulls law for impersonators

     New York City officials are turning up the heat on Elmo, Cookie Monster and Statue of Liberty impersonators — Times Square costumed characters who often demand money for posing in photos with tourists.

    July 30, 2014

  • US economy grew at strong 4 percent rate in spring

    After a dismal winter, the U.S. economy sprang back to life in the April-June quarter, growing at a fast 4 percent annual rate on the strength of higher consumer and business spending.

    July 30, 2014

  • Broken water main floods UCLA; 5 people rescued

    A broken water main near the UCLA campus Tuesday sent a geyser of water some 30 feet into the air, trapping people in underground parking garages and covering some of the best-known parts of campus in water, including the school's famed basketball arena.

    July 30, 2014

  • Study: 35 percent in US facing debt collectors

    More than 35 percent of Americans have debts and unpaid bills that have been reported to collection agencies, according to a study released Tuesday by the Urban Institute.

    July 29, 2014

  • Medicare's own health looking better, report says

    Medicare's financial future is looking brighter despite a growing wave of baby boomers reaching retirement.

    July 29, 2014