Will Sequestration Turn US Into 'Second-Rate Power'

White House Press Secretary dodges question about statement by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
5:05 | 02/21/13

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Transcript for Will Sequestration Turn US Into 'Second-Rate Power'
Current secretary of defense. This question -- going to fact. We wouldn't turn into its second rate power instead of being a first rate power in the world we return into a -- -- power. That would be the result of sequester. Does the president agree if these cuts go into effect America -- -- second rate power president agrees. With his secretary of defense his current. As well as his future he agrees with the speaker of the house he agrees with the numerous Republicans who have said on the record. That the onerous cuts. In the sequestered to defense the across the board indiscriminate cuts to defense. Will harm our national security interest will reduce our readiness will result. In a reduction in flight hours will result might have resulted already in. Changes in our rotation for. Aircraft carriers to the Persian gulf these are. Real world consequences they also result as we learned yesterday and hundreds of thousands of furlough notices. To the men and women who. A part of the national security team who. Work everyday to protect the United States and our citizens. So you know the the consequences here are real what we unfortunately. See. These days including in an article in the New York Times today. Is an indication from Republicans. That they don't really. Is there it. There are. Anticipating. The sequester will go into effect. And they're not willing to do what the American public as we seen in poll after poll overwhelmingly. Supports which is -- to adopt the president's position it. Eliminating -- through a balanced deficit reduction plan they're not willing to protect the jobs. What the CBO predicts could be up to 750000. Americans. By asking. Oil and gas companies to. Forgo their taxpayer subsidies or corporate jet owners to give up their special tax break now willing to do that and this is very disappointing. Which -- -- the military spending specifically. Even if the cuts go into -- the US spent more than China Russia all of Europe combined far more. It -- second rate power was the first rate look I don't think. The issue here is. The language used to describe it because every characterization you make -- -- if you're being honest about it is negative -- impact will be negative it will. Harm our national security and that is a problem moreover. It will harm. That. Tens of thousands of children who would -- Thrown off of head start it will harm my children who depend on. Mental health services seniors who depend on services it will harm first responders across the country. -- who will get furlough notices or layoff notices. Teachers and the like this is the consequences of this are. Are real they are not this is not just there seems to be a willingness unfortunately among Republicans on the hill. To reject. The opinions the vast majority of the American people. Reject obviously the reasons and moderate propositions put forward by -- proposals put forward by the president. And to adopt this approach that says -- you know again we would rather protect the special -- interest tax breaks -- take action. Very simple action to keep those Americans in their jobs. But because all -- while what is it Americans who. Through this recession go through it had made adjustments in their own family budgets and to think -- did you know cutting. 3% of an overall budget. 10% a specific part of the budget that that the only way to do that is to do these draconian cuts it will jeopardize national security will need. Forest fires won't be able to put out -- prosecutors not to let crooks go I mean how can. What do you -- to America. Look -- -- what we would say is the sequestered from the sequester. As everyone recognized at the time but was specifically designed. To be so low with some that. Congress would actually be compelled to compromise. That was the idea and compromising coming up with the one point two trillion dollars in deficit reduction in a way. That protected. Our national security in the protected. Are vital interest like the children on had started the seniors who rely on services. Teachers and first responders. You know the whole point was forced to be this bad. So that congress would never go along with -- unfortunately there has been a change of heart in congress. Apparently on the Republican side especially in the house and an embrace. An approach that. Has real world consequences for real people who are sitting at home -- will be tonight. After work wondering. If they're gonna have a job animal which in --

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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