U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham pulled no punches Tuesday during an appearance in Beaufort,warning local leaders about the impact of looming defense cuts on the area’s three military bases.
The South Carolina Republican sharply criticized fellow GOP leaders and President Barack Obama for not doing more to avoid cuts that Graham said will drastically reduce the size of the Army, Navy and Air Force and all but dismantle the Marine Corps.
“Being a Republican, I can’t imagine the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan ever putting the Defense Department at risk,” Graham said. “I criticize Republicans for even allowing this to be a possibility. This isn’t a partisan issue for me. Both parties are going to be affected by a destroyed military.”
More than a dozen local leaders were on hand as Graham outlined what he thought would happen to the nation’s defense as a result of budget sequestration in January 2013 that will trigger more than $1 trillion in mandatory cuts to the Pentagon’s budget.
More than $600 billion in defense cuts were included in the Budget Control Act as a penalty if the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction failed last year to reach consensus on a way to reduce the national debt. The bipartisan panel failed to reach such a resolution.
The Pentagon already planned to cut more than $450 billion over the next decade, officials said.
Graham said Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, should be made to address how they would reduce the national debt without further cuts to the military budget.
“Gov. Romney and President Obama are going to have to talk about this,” Graham said. “I want Gov. Romney to talk about this. I want him to say, ‘On my watch as commander-in-chief, I will not sign any legislation that devastates our military.’”