Leon Panetta is not the first person to curse about the pending sequestration cuts, nor the last.
And he’s not the first, nor the last, to slam lawmakers over the finger-pointing and name-calling about the $500 billion defense cuts set to kick in March 1.
But he’s the U.S. defense secretary — for a few more days, at least. So when he does such things, people take notice.
Asked at what likely was his final Pentagon press briefing about his accomplishments and disappointments, Panetta was candid when he brought up the uneasy Defense Department budget picture. He listed as one of his disappointments the fact that the Pentagon-White House-Congress “bond is not as strong as it should be.”
And then Panetta let loose:
“What I look for are members who are willing to work with us, to try to work our way through some tough issues and be able to find some solutions. We need to find solutions. We can’t just sit here and bitch; we can’t just sit here and complain; we can’t just sit here and blame others; we can’t just sit here and point fingers at each other; we can’t just sit here and try to get sound bites; we can’t just sit here and try to make points, political points.
“We have got to solve real problems facing this country. This country is facing some real threats in the world. I mean, this is not a time when we can kind of, you know, take a deep breath and assume that the rest of the world is going to be fine. We’re facing some real threats, as I’ve pointed out before. We can’t do this alone. We have to do this with a full partnership of the Congress and both houses of the Congress.”