US austerity targets would include $129 million for embassy protection

US Embassy in Berlin (AFP Photo / John MacDougall)
The White House budget office announced Friday that 2013's automatic spending cuts will slash $109 billion from federal spending – including $129 million annually that goes to embassy protection.

­Unless Congress implements a plan to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion in the next ten years, automatic spending cuts will slash federal government funds on January 2 – affecting US affairs abroad and at home.

The details of the slash in funds for embassy protection comes after US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens was killed in an attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi on Tuesday night. Three other Americans also died in the attack on the diplomatic mission.

As protesters in the Muslim world angrily target additional US embassies after the release of an American-made anti-Islamic video sparked worldwide outrage, embassy protection is vital to prevent further attacks. But it's just one area that will suffer if Congress remains undecided.

The new budget will also take away $54.7 billion from defense spending, which includes $21.5 billion from operations and maintenance for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, reserves and National Guard.

“The report leaves no question that the sequestration would be deeply destructive to national security, domestic investments and core government functions,” the White House budget office wrote in the report.

Military aid to Afghanistan would be reduced by $1.4 billion. The National Institutes of Health, which do research to find cures to deadly diseases, would see $2.5 billion of their funding evaporate. Border and fencing technology would take a $33 million hit.

Medicare would be cut by $11.1 billion. The American Cancer Society would also lose money, resulting in 50,000 fewer low-income, underinsured women from being screened for cancer in 2013.

Education will also suffer. Class sizes will go up, after school programs will be reduced and “children with disabilities would suffer,” the report notes. Washington DC’s Howard University, one of the nation's Historically Black Colleges, would lose $19 million in funding.

“The Administration does not support these cuts, but unless Congress acts responsibly, there will be no choice but to implement them,” the report says.

A Defense Department spokesperson told Reuters that the cuts to funding “would have devastating effects on important defense and non-defense programs.”

“If sequestration is triggered, the Department would be forced to cut $55 billion in 2013 in an across-the-board, senseless manner and it’s clear that allowing these indiscriminate cuts would be irresponsible,” acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, George Little, told Reuters.

At a time when embassies are under attack overseas and more than half of Americans depend on government subsidies, domestic and overseas spending reductions would make an already-bad picture even worse.