Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s claim Thursday that President Obama objects to further defense cuts has Republicans demanding to know if the president is really taking the Pentagon’s budget “off the table” when it comes to negotiating further cuts in federal spending.
If so, it could put the president at odds with members of his own party that believe further cuts in the Pentagon budget are warranted.
After promising to increase budgetary transparency at the Pentagon, Panetta fielded a question from Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, on whether he favored additional cuts to defense spending beyond the $450-billion in cuts that are already in the works.
“You've seemed quite clear that you believe that we should make no further cuts in the defense budget beyond those which have already been enacted. Is that true?” Thornberry asked.
“Correct,” answered Panetta.
“Does the president share your view on that,” Thornberry asked.
“He does,” said Panetta.
The only problem is that if the president does share Panetta’s view on future cuts to defense spending, he has yet to come forward and publicly say so.