McDonnell targets defense spending, but opposes automatic cuts

From The Washington Times:

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell says that defense spending must be reined in if Congress is serious about getting the nation’s fiscal house in order but opposes the $500 billion in automatic defense cuts under last year’s debt deal, warning they would weaken national security, kill jobs and devastate his state’s defense industry.

Thought to be on the short list of potential vice-presidential picks for Republican standard-bearer Mitt Romney, Mr. McDonnell’s willingness to place defense spending on the chopping block puts him at odds with the former Massachusetts governor, who has railed against President Obama’s attempts to reduce the size of the Pentagon budget and vowed to beef it up.

In a meeting on Friday with editors and reporters of The Washington Times, Mr. McDonnell said he supported the debt deal that lawmakers hammered out last summer because it represented the “lesser of multiple evils” — noting the looming concerns over the potential downgrading of the nation’s credit rating.

Republicans, he said, were optimistic that the “supercommittee” established through the deal would be able to forge a bipartisan deficit-cutting agreement. But it didn’t, triggering $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts that will be split between defense and non-defense spending if Congress fails to find common ground before the end of the year. That does not bode well for Virginia, which is home to a high number of defense contractors and military bases.

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