Former Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel is poised to be nominated as the next Defense Secretary. Politico’s Josh Gerstein has an interesting round-up of the five constituencies most likely to oppose Hagel, but I want to see how President Barack Obama’s pick articulates his position on military spending cuts.
After the fiscal cliff mess, Republicans are aiming to reform entitlements, while Democrats would prefer to ax the Pentagon. If Hagel can give a reasoned defense for eliminating some unnecessary programs – such as projects that serve to stimulate local economic development rather than national security – then a way could be opened for responsible spending reductions over a wider array of budget areas. Unlike the automatic spending sequester scheduled to reappear at the end of February, a Hagelian contribution like the one I’m imagining could go a long way to getting on the table real cuts that the broader public can accept.
We’ll see if Hagel makes good on the opportunity.