Morning Joe | February 21, 2013
>>> all ready the threat of these cuts, as our military leaders have made clear, changes like this, not well thought through, not phased in properly, changes like this affect our ability to respond to threats in unstable parts of the world.
>> 22 past the hour. welcome back to " morning joe ." joining us now from washington, the deputy defense secretary ashton carter , and here on set columnist for the new york times, gail collins . good to have you back.
>> the deputy secretary said that if sequester goes through, he's going to cut his pay.
>> that's right.
>> and won't the new york times, if they continue to have these sell-offs and if the boston globe deal doesn't go through as well as it'd like, are you going to give back part of your salary to the times?
>> to the times?
>> sure. anytime they want it.
>> i don't believe it. she is a company player.
>> yes, she is.
>> well, secretary carter, thank you so much for being with us. obviously you guys are staring down a fiscal gun, so to speak. what's the impact if sequester goes through?
>> well, what we have to do under sequester is take $46 billion out of a cut that much between now and the end of the year, and so that's sudden, it's steep, and also we have to do it in a way that is piece by piece , account by account, spread across like peanut butter , which is from a managerial point of view, the worst possible way to do cuts. so the effect is going to be a crisis in readiness later in the year. and the reason that happens is that we have to go wherever we can get money quickly. and one of the places you can get money quickly is training. and so we'll have to stop training for army units, air force units , stop ships from sailing. this is obviously deliterious to your national security . the world is watching and looking for us to get out of our own way here. it is damaging.
>> so i'm sure then members from the department of defense have been working with members of congress to find more reasonable ways to save money, cuts that could or need or have to be made versus those that would be ridiculous at this time. so what are some of these ideas?
>> that's a very good question. we should be asked all the time, how much defense does the country need? how much money does it really need? and we're embarked on a huge transition now from the era of iraq and afghanistan and our necessarily total preoccupation on them to the threats that are going to determine this country's future. we also understand that a strong defense rests on a strong economy. so secretary panetta and all the rest of us have embarked, you'll remember last year on $487 billion worth of cuts which are on top of secretary gates' about 300, when he eliminated, when i was working for him then, unnecessary performing programs. and then as the war in iraq has ended and the war and afghanistan is winding down, that part of the budget's going down. we understand that. we're going to try to adjust and give the country the defense it needs within those resources. but this is something different. this dumb and very difficult for us to responsibly manage through.
>> mike barnicle .
>> mr. secretary, let's take it down from trains and planes and ships to sidewalk level. let's go to kentucky. what happens on the ground to personnel in and around that fort and other bases like in south carolina as well?
>> sure. well, they're all over the place, and let's start with the military personnel. the president has exempted military pay from sequester so that won't be affected, but the troops are affected in a lot of other ways. i talked about training. remember, that's what our guys care about is the mission and being ready for it. that's why they're doing what they're doing. if they can't train, they can't be what they want to be. then there are the civilians. and yesterday secretary panetta announced that we're going to have to furlough the great majority of our civilian employees. and most people here in washington think that a government sichb employee, a dod employee is somebody who gets in the suburbs, works in an office building . that's not who they are. our civilians are people who repair engines, work in shipyar shipyards. and then finally they're all the employees of the industry that supports us. and people need to remember we don't make anything in the pentagon. the reason that our military is the greatest in the world is first of all our people, but secondly the weapons systems that we have. and industry makes them for us. and that industry and its people are essential to national defense . so all of these folks are going to be affected at each other installation around the country.
>> good morning. you talk about a reduction in training programs and republicans programs. can you give us specifics, and before you do, fort campbell 's in tennessee. give us a specific example because i think it's easy for us to listen, i believe you, but just for the american people and those watching to understand what you mean specifically.
>> sure. let me give you a few examples, and by the way, i know that fort campbell straddles the borrowed and there's a rivally there. got it. in all seriousness, specific examples, i mentioned furlough, so how does that affect real people ? we're going to have to take a fifth of their paycheck away from them in the last six or so months of the year. and that's a big deal for anybody and any family. and it happens suddenly. and i'll tell you, when we do that, even if we did that to every civilian worker in the department, we'd only get 5 billion of the $46 billion we need to find. so there are lots of other people affected. another example, if you're a soldier in a base in texas or something, the last few months of the year, you plan to take your equipment, your vehicles, your weapons and everything and go to a national training range and get an opportunity to practice for wars that might occur in the future. you're not going to do that. you're going to sit at your base. that's a real thing for a soldier. and then in industry, almost every one of our weapons programs, we will have to slow down and buy fewer of them because we don't have the money. what does that mean economically? it means we have to go to lower and less efficient production rates. that's the kind of thing the taxpayer doesn't deserve. the taxpayer wants the best value for the defense dollar. and they're tired, and boy, do i understand this, of paying too much for things and feeling like they're not getting value for their defense dollar. this heads in just the opposite direction and makes us do things in an economically inefficient way. it's very sad.
>> deputy defense secretary ashton carter , thank you very much.
>> thank you.
>> so gail, it's like that old 1970s movie, journey to the other side of the sun, where the astronaut gets pulled over and goes to oppositeville on the other side of the sun.
>> i missed this movie.
>> you were not watching like cbs movies in 1971 . i don't know what you were doing in 1971 , but we'll talk about that next segment. but everything was backwards for this poor astronaut. even cologne was spelled backwards. but here we've got democrats fight be and clawing to protect the defense budget and republicans going, go ahead and cut it.
>> it's opposite to me. you're right. i think the democrats would like to protect the domestic side of this thing too, but clearly where the money is. i don't know what's going to happen to like virginia and some of the other states, maybe georgia, that are heavily, heavily dependent on military spending and the pentagon if this thing keeps going for a while. what'll happen to housing prices in these places? what this is going to do to the economy is going to be very, very troubling, whether it's crazy spending in defense or smart spending elsewhere, just pulling the plug like this is going to be bad for us.
>> it's interesting the republicans don't believe in stimulus spending when it's attached to domestic programs, but you do hear people like eric cantor in virginia saying this stimulates the economy. if you cut the defense spending , it's going to cost jobs. it will also. the economy's upside down down right now. we're in negative growth this last quarter.
>> it's really a bad idea right now to do this thing. and also as they were saying, it's deliberately written i guess to make it ridiculous so that you can't say let's take out one of our stupid tank programs we don't need. you can't do that.
>> but that doesn't seem to be inspiring action. i mean, i asked what are they -- what's the alternative? i'm sure that they've been working with members of congress to come up with an alternative to this. i didn't -- i hear, oh, there should be one.
>> but i don't hear any.
>> well, i've got to say," you know, a lot of people, mike barnicle , attacked the president and congress for not working together, but they did come up with a plan that would have been remarkably stupid to an act as a worst-case scenario, and they worked together to create that fail safe plan and they're going to implement it.
>> but the part that i don't understand, mike, you talk about the republicans saying, well, this thing that last year we said was so incredibly horrible, we were creating only to make sure it wouldn't happen, we've decided now it's great. this could work for us. right?
>> we are now at the point where one of the top political stories yesterday was the fact that the president of the united states had a phone conversation with senator marco rubio .
>> who was in israel at the time.
>> that was like highlighted as this is a big deal . that's where this process it. that's where this process is. at least they did that, but i mean --
>> i'm glad they did it.
>> your show may have done more to contribute so hopefully short-term, maybe long-term after what steny said today. we cap deductions at 28%. he talked about the changes to social security which would crea$100 billion in retirement age. unbelievable that they can't do that together there and here we are now four, five days away from these indiscriminate, cruel cuts across the board.
>> it's a big step forward for democrats.
>> for the country.
>> gail collins , thanks to you very much for coming today. the postal service launching a clothing line.
>> this is exciting, gail, a clothing line. have you gone out and gotten your u.s. postal service gear yet?
>> many, many people are dying to look as if they are delivering the mail.
>> john stewart talked about their business model .
>> you can read that at