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OPINION

Panetta and Clinton Wade Into Domestic Politics

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The Obama administration's top two foreign-policy officials waded deeply into domestic politics on Tuesday, calling for tax hikes to help close the budget deficit and warning against making deep cuts to the budgets of the Pentagon and State Department.

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Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made an unusual joint appearance before a military audience at the National Defense University on Tuesday, using their combined political stature to push Congress toward a "balanced" debt-reduction deal that wouldn't fall disproportionately on their two departments.

The two officials have known each other for decades, with Panetta serving as head of the Office of Management and Budget and then as White House chief of staff during the Clinton administration. They appeared comfortable together on stage, referring to each other by their first names and frequently telling jokes. When the moderator asked about their two "gigantic" departments, Clinton—whose budget is roughly one-twelfth the size of Panetta's—quipped, "Well, he's gigantic," drawing laughter from the crowd.

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