Panetta: The Wrong Message

WASHINGTON (July 1, 2011) Official portrait of...
WASHINGTON (July 1, 2011) Official portrait of Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta. (Dept. of Defense photo/Released) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Report: Defense Secretary Panetta Defends $860,000 Cost for Weekend Trips Home |

Leon Panetta is being called to task for racking up US$860,000 in personal travel costs to his home in California since becoming Secretary of Defense.

To me the issue is not whether he should have flown commercial (probably not – he is in the chain of command) or whether this will make a dent in the DoD budget (absolutely not.) Rather, the issue is that when you lead an organization with a budget that is the largest single line item in any government on the planet, every penny you spend sends a message. When you spend the people’s money like this, you are telling every civilian, officer, and enlisted man on the payroll that they, too, should be entitled to such perks.

This is the wrong message to be sending to the troops, and it is the wrong message to be sending to the American people. It reflects a tin-ear insensitivity to the challenges the department faces.

It is time to end the spendthrift ways of our government, and that effort must begin with the Pentagon. Panetta has demonstrated his lack of disposition to lead that effort.

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