Panetta Could Ease Path for Budget Cuts at Pentagon
President Obama’s nomination of CIA Director Leon Panetta to replace Robert Gates as secretary of defense is receiving praise from many quarters, largely because he shares many of the same qualities Gates is admired for. Both are “pragmatic, non-ideological problem solvers who know their way around the White House,” in the words of the Washington Post.
But because Panetta is considered an ally of Obama’s — compared to Gates’ more independent profile — the White House now is more likely achieve the $400 billion in savings Obama wants to extract from the national security budget over the next 12 years, reports The Hill.
“Secretary Gates was strongly committed to maintaining a robust defense posture, but Panetta will be more interested in getting along with the White House, which must find ways of cutting the deficit,” Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute told The Hill.
On the other hand, the military, along with the Republican House, will resist more defense cuts.
“Whoever succeeds Gates is going to face a difficult set of challenges, and may not have much time to address them. There is barely a year before the 2012 presidential election campaign,” Andrew Krepinevich, president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, told The Hill.