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Panetta Offers Beltway Perspective on Budget Policy During Guest Lecture

Rep. Jimmy Panetta of California's 20th Congressional District

Rep. Jimmy Panetta of California's 20th Congressional District spoke to students enrolled in Defense Budget and Financial Management Policy at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) during a virtual lecture, Mar. 22.

Rep. Jimmy Panetta of California's 20th Congressional District offered an insider’s perspective on national budget policy during a virtual guest lecture for university students in the Defense Budget and Financial Management Policy course at the Naval Postgraduate School, Mar. 22. Now in its fourth year, Panetta’s guest lecture provides students with key insights about policy decisions and processes from a local leader with direct experience in these processes at the national level.

Associate Professor Ryan Sullivan in the Graduate School of Defense Management teaches the course, and says having Panetta come every year is a great, additional benefit for the students.

"There is only so much you can learn out of a textbook,” noted Sullivan. “Like any graduate-level public policy class, we cover the standard theoretical and empirical studies on the subject. Congressman Panetta discusses how all of this plays out in the real world, at the highest levels of the federal government."

Sullivan added, "His personal stories and experiences on this topic provide key insights for the class on how Washington works in practice."

During the discussion, Panetta expressed how there is more to legislation than voting on bills. It starts with discussions and the need to build both personal relationships and professional relationships.

“Based on my past with caucuses, we’ve been able at least talk through issues and have an understanding of why members vote the way they do,” said Panetta. “It’s those types of discussions that provide a foundational understanding between members, and that helps build and support relationships.

“It’s easy to get stuck in our trenches and use that as an excuse for continued trench warfare,” he continued. “If you do that, then breakdowns in Congress can occur. Ultimately, it’s those personal relationships that allow us to build our professional relationships.”

Panetta gave his view on budget and policy change and how it is approached in Congress. He spoke on the monumental challenge of the COVID pandemic, on immigration policy, and on bipartisanship as well. 

"Ideally, I'd love to see it bipartisan," said Panetta. "I’d love everybody to have skin in the game, but I think there is an attitude in the administration that we've got to focus on progress, not necessarily process at this point.”

U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Michael Hanlon is a student in the course. He noted how invaluable it was to hear from a member of Congress who is actively taking part in shaping current policies, adding that it was a great opportunity to hear about the pace at which these policies are being implemented.

"We are living through a new era in policy-making as elected officials continued to help their communities get through the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Hanlon. “I am grateful for the fact that I am at NPS during this time and thankful that [Congressman Panetta] took time out of his busy schedule to have the conversation with us.”

“Our services chose us to come to NPS so that we can gain the skills necessary to be both better leaders and better able to inform decision makers,” he continued. “Having the ability to interact with decision makers at NPS, in a learning environment, makes us better prepared for future service."

Panetta expressed that the Monterey Peninsula is home to a hub of higher education for national security.

“NPS is a vital defense research and education capability for the Navy and the nation,” noted Panetta. “I enjoy taking advantage of the opportunities to engage our military students, and I look forward to the possibilities ahead for them and for NPS.”


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