WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says he doesn't believe Congress can reach a deal before the November elections that avoids deep cuts in military spending, but says he is optimistic that the reductions won't occur.
In interviews Monday with news outlets from regions with a large military presence, Obama said he has made sure that service members don't lose pay or benefits and that veterans continue to receive their benefits.
He called on Congress to act, telling the Virginian Pilot that Democrats must understand that any deal will require spending cuts. He said Republicans must also accept the need for additional tax revenue. Without a deal, the Pentagon faces $500 billion in cuts over 10 years.
The looming cuts are part of a deal brokered last year by Obama and congressional leaders of both parties. It was designed to force a deficit agreement, but Congress was unable to come up with a compromise.
Obama warned that without congressional action, the cuts could have consequences that could affect military readiness.
"It could affect how many ships we can build, it could affect our force structure in fairly significant ways, it can have an impact in terms of our ability to respond to a wide range of challenges that could happen simultaneously in some instances," he told KNSD in San Diego.
Still, he voiced confidence that a deal could be reached to keep the cuts from kicking in.
"There is still time and my expectation is sometimes folks on Capitol Hill don't always do things in a timely fashion, unlike our military, but they do do them eventually," he said.
He dismissed accusations that he has authorized disclosures of military operations, particularly the special operations raid that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden.
"My attitude towards leaks and disclosures of our military operations has been to crack down on it," he told WVEC in Norfolk, Va. "I don't have a lot of tolerance for it."
Obama also granted interviews to WTLV/WJXX in Jacksonville, Fla.