Panetta Puts Everything on the Table for Defense Savings

In his Senate confirmation hearing this morning to become the next Secretary of Defense, CIA Director Leon Panetta (and former CRFB chairman!) said that every element of the defense budget needs to be on the table when we discuss ways to get control of our mounting federal debt.

In his statement and in response to questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee, Mr. Panetta noted that we have to consider a whole host of specific areas where we can save, saying that "it may be appropriate to conduct a comprehensive review of the military pay and benefits structure to determine where costs can be contained" while also singling out some weapons programs. He endorsed Secretary Gates's approach to begin indentifying where an additional $400 billion in defense savings, as called for in the President's Framework, could come from, and ultimately agreed that difficult choices must be made based on their impact on national security.

No one understands the need to simultaneously address both our security and fiscal threats better than Mr. Panetta. Projections for our growing debt become worse with each passing year, and the magnitude of the problem requries us to address it with a comprehensive fiscal plan. The many years Mr. Panetta served in the House of Representatives and as chairman of the House Budget Committee, his time in the Clinton Administration as OMB Director and Chief of Staff, and his national security experience gained while serving as CIA Director for the past two years make him the ideal candidate for Secretary of Defense where he will be in the center of all debates.

We wish Mr. Panetta a speedy confirmation process, and the best of luck when he assumes his new role.