Obama: Innovation, DoD budget cuts needed to reduce debt

Tuesday - 4/19/2011, 3:20pm EDT

By Jolie Lee
Federal News Radio

President Obama said the Defense Department must continue to cut wasteful spending from its budget for the country to reach fiscal health. At the same time, the country must continue to invest in energy, science and technology, he said.

In a town hall meeting Tuesday in suburban Annandale, Va., the President said the government continues to fund old weapons systems "that the Pentagon doesn't want, but Congress sometimes keeps on stuffing into the budget."

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has identified $400 billion in wasteful spending in the DoD budget. In his deficit reduction plan, President Obama called on DoD to make another $400 billion in defense spending over the next 12 years.

"$400 billion - even in Washington, that's real money. That funds a lot of Pell Grants. That funds a lot of assistance for communities like this one," said the President, who was speaking at a community college.

The Pentagon has said this cannot be done without cutting military forces and putting U.S. security at risk.

Research investment

The federal government has historically invested in research that has helped the public. Those investments spread throughout the economy "and made everybody richer and better off," the President said.

"That's what we've got to do with energy as well, but that requires an investment and I'm prepared to make that investment. I think we all should be," he said.

The President also said the federal government should move to have 100 percent of its vehicles be energy-efficient.