The failure of the congressional supercommittee on budget deficit reduction automatically triggers $500 billion of defense spending cuts beginning in January 2013.
And that reduction may provide the Republican presidential nominee with a weapon to brandish against President Barack Obama in next year’s campaign, The Hill
So far national security has stood as an area of strength for the president, with the killing of terrorists Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki and the ouster of former Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi.
“He is remarkably strong,” Richard Danzig, a former Navy Secretary and Obama campaign adviser, said at a Democratic National Committee event this week. “The more this election is about security issues, the more advantageous it is to this president.”
But that may soon change. Several of the Republican presidential candidates went after Obama on the Pentagon spending issue after the supercommittee’s demise.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry even suggested that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who strenuously objected to the reductions, should quit. Almost all the GOP candidates say defense spending needs to rise.
“If Republicans succeed in making it a debate about whether to slash the defense budget, that will probably hurt the White House,” James Lindsay, a senior vice president at the Council on Foreign Relations, told The Hill.
“If it comes down to where do you cut to balance the budget, that could potentially help the president. . . . The president wants to broaden the frame to talk about how we bring our fiscal policies in line.”
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