Republicans Still Not Getting Specific On Spending Cuts

They've won the elections, but Republicans still aren't getting specific about exactly where they'd cut Federal spending.

This should be distressing to anyone who hopes that the Republican victories last Tuesday would mean that the Republican Party was actually serious about cutting spending.

In separate appearances on ABC’s This Week and NBC’s Meet The Press, neither Senator-elect Rand Paul nor Senator Jim DeMint would name specific steps they would favor taking to cut spending:

Signaling how difficult it will be for the Republican Party to live up to its campaign promises of cutting spending while preserving the Bush tax cuts and not cutting benefits for seniors, Tea Party favorites Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Sen.-elect Rand Paul (R-Ky.) struggled on Sunday to actually name any specific cuts they plan on making.

On ABC’s “This Week,” Christiane Amanpour repeatedly pressed Paul to move beyond “slogans and platitudes” to “direct information” on how the Republican Party will balance the budget and cut the deficit.

Paul immediately reiterated that he was going to push for a balanced budget amendment and said that cuts needed to come from across the board — including defense spending. Whenever Amanpour asked whether a specific program — such as Medicare, Social Security and health care — would be cut, Paul simply kept reiterating that he was going to be looking “across the board.” He was unable, however, to actually name anything significant that would be on the chopping block

(…)

DeMint had a similar experience on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” When asked by host David Gregory where the American people should be prepared to sacrifice in order to cut the deficit, DeMint said, “I don’t think the American people are going to have to sacrifice as much as the government bureaucrats who get paid about twice what the American worker does. First of all, we just need to return to pre-Obama levels of spending in 2008. We need to cut earmarks so people can stop taking home the bacon, we need to defund Obamacare and then we need to look at the entitlement programs, such as the way Paul Ryan has done in the House with his Road to America’s Future.”

When Gregory pointed out that going back to 2008 spending levels won’t get anywhere close to balancing the budget, he asked whether everything would be on the table. DeMint said he opposed cutting Social Security. “If we can just cut the administrative waste, we can cut hundreds of billions of dollars a year at the federal level. We need to keep our promises to seniors, David, and cutting benefits to seniors is not on the table.” DeMint also said that cutting benefits for veterans is out.

Here’s a video compilation of Paul’s and DeMint’s appearances:

At some point, the GOP is going to have to put specifics on the table if their professed commitment to budget cutting is going to be taken seriously. So far, the only Republican who’s put forward a specific plan of any kind is Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan. While Ryan’s Roadmap For America’s Future isn’t perfect, it has the virtue of being more specific than anything anyone else in the GOP has come up with.

It may have been understandable for candidates for office like Paul not to get into specifics about what they’d be willing to consider cutting while running for office because such pronouncements inevitable end up getting distorted by the opposition, becoming fodder for negative ads. However, the elections are over. The Republicans have a House majority now, and a much more sizable presence in the Senate. The time for them to get specific is fast approaching.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Social Security, Taxes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. John Burgess says:

    The Republicans have nearly three months before they actually have to start doing anything.

    Mightn’t they be given a little time to talk over the issues? The TP ≠ Republicans on the whole and liberal Reps ≠ conservative Reps. They’ve got to get their own plays straight among themselves before they start putting them into action.

  2. ratufa says:

    “This should be distressing to anyone who hopes that the Republican victories last Tuesday would mean that the Republican Party was actually serious about cutting spending.”

    That is premature in several ways:

    — The election was less than a week ago and those pro-Republican ads about how Obama/Pelosi/Satan cut Medicare are fresh in everyone’s mind. Nobody’s going to want to create a soundbite about cutting entitlements at this point (or ever. for that matter).

    — Any plan about major spending cuts is going to involve negotiations w/in the Republican congressional caucus. The election was less than a week ago.

    — Any big spending cut is going to be massively unpopular with some interest group. If the Republicans actually are serious about big spending cuts, they’d be stupid to make a clear-cut announcement far in advance and give the opposition more time to mobilize.

    Timing aside, no matter how much the Republicans (particularly the new Republicans in Congress) actually want to cut spending, they still need to deal with the combination of the popularity of entitlements and the fact that the Democrats control the Senate and the Presidency. Even if the House goes out on a limb and passes major cuts, they’d likely get watered down or vetoed. So, they’re going to be pretty reluctant to make themselves easy targets for Democrats for no reason.

  3. Rock says:

    And exactly what are the Democrats proposals for spending cuts?

  4. Michael says:

    What a stupid question…seems to be the norm here. Isn’t it obvious?

  5. Based on the comments, the only change the election has made is that the all the Tea Party types are switching from “he’s really changed this time; he’s promised that if I go back he’ll never hit me again” mode to “it’s not his fault he hits me, everything is just so hard and he’s really a good man” mode.

  6. xtron says:

    here are a few suggestions….

    eliminate, or at the very least, defund the following departments/agencies:

    the rural electrification agency…started by F.D.R. to provide electricity to rural communities and farmers at affordabe rates…who still needs electricity that cannot get it????

    the tennessee alley authority..again started by F.D.R. to build hydro=electric dams in the deep south..part of his “shovel ready” make work effort to end the recession…no dams have been built in a long, long time, and are not likely to be built ever again if the enviromentalists have their way

    the appalatchian rehabilitation commission…started by L.B.J. to provide relief for unemploied coal miners in the w.va.,penn.,tenn. hills…it has financed such great projects as installing parking meters in atlanta ….much of robert byrd’s pork barrel earmarks flowed thru the arc’

    eleminate the full pay retirement of former congressmen and senators..when you or i leave a job, do we get to keep getting full pay for the rest of our lives??? why should they, especilally seeings as ALL of them are “independantly wealthy” when they “retire”.

    these are just a small sample of the thousands of wastefull and redundant orgaizations that have been started for good reasons, but have long overlived their need, but have not been terminated, mostely for political resons.

  7. anjin-san says:

    The federal government grew like a weed the last time to GOP was in charge. If you think anything has changed, I have a bridge for sale you might be interested in…

  8. John Personna says:

    They were able to win election without naming cuts. What do you think their expectation of voters is? They probably think they have a year.

  9. John Personna says:

    Or – the debt reduction commission reported in Decenber. The could let the commission name the hard cuts, and then just (hopefully) support them.

  10. John Personna says:

    Should be “reports” this dec.

  11. An Interested Party says:

    So much for the supposed Tea Party Revolution…Rand Paul has learned very quickly how the game is played…these Tea Party types are being coopted faster than anyone would have thought…

  12. john personna says:

    Well, while they might have time and they might be able to pace it, I don’t think we have any real evidence they are in a hurry to set things right.

  13. steve says:

    “Mightn’t they be given a little time to talk over the issues?”

    They have talked about cutting spending for years. They campaigned on cutting spending. Mightn’t they have some ideas formed during that time about what to cut?

    Steve

  14. Steve Plunk says:

    I have already seen Libs asking why Republicans haven’t fixed the economy yet. Spoiled children think that way, they want it now.

    The complications of recent events means caution is advised. Take your time and do it right.

  15. An Interested Party says:

    “I have already seen Libs asking why Republicans haven’t fixed the economy yet. Spoiled children think that way, they want it now.”

    Oh, like how Republicans and conservatives felt about the president in 2008…as for wanting it now, let us look at the policies of the Republicans over the first decade of the 21st century…tax cuts, wars recklessly pursued and paid for by borrowing, etc…so much for caution, taking your time, and doing it right…

  16. Rock says:

    And the goofy Democrats could not even pass a budget this year. And they probably won’t next year. I wonder why? Out of money?

  17. anjin-san says:

    > Spoiled children think that way, they want it now.

    Really? You must be referring to the almost nonstop whining from the right over the last 2 years about how Obama was not fixing the economic disaster that the Bush admin bequeathed him quickly enough…

  18. george says:

    The Republicans didn’t seem to cut spending the last time they were in power under Bush – in fact they increased spending thanks to going into Iraq. Their track record on this is no better than the democrats. This is definitely in the ‘I’ll believe it when I see it category’.

  19. sam says:

    @Rock

    “And the goofy Democrats could not even pass a budget this year. And they probably won’t next year. I wonder why? Out of money?”

    Anybody else spot the stupidity?

  20. john personna says:

    I have already seen Libs asking why Republicans haven’t fixed the economy yet. Spoiled children think that way, they want it now.

    No, you id-jet. They are asking for an actual plan, actual cuts, which are not at all the same as “fixing it yet.”

  21. jfxgillis says:

    Stormy:

    “… the Tea Party types are switching from “he’s really changed this time; he’s promised that if I go back he’ll never hit me again” mode to “it’s not his fault he hits me, everything is just so hard and he’s really a good man” mode.”

    Yup. Our host here hasn’t quite made the transition yet, but it’s obvious he will.

  22. john personna says:

    By the way,

    Why don’t you Republicans (who suddenly feel defensive) just ask for cuts as well?

    What have you got to lose?

    (and why on earth would you fly cover for lack of cuts, after asking for them all these years?)

  23. george says:

    “[…] the rest of the country is focused our Republican “saviors” who can’t name a specific spending cut they endorse and that useless Keith Olbermann, we’re going to stay focused on the issues that […]”

    I doubt many think that the Republicans are saviors, anymore than most thought the Democrats they’d voted in were saviors. People are voting against whoever is in power, and its likely to continue that way for awhile. Permanent majorities, democratic or republican, are just the daydreams of party organizers.

  24. c.red says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Ryan “Plan” was about gutting Medicare, privatizing Social Security and finally (because of built in tax cuts) actually raised the deficit? Yeah, that’s a winner.

    Sure let’s give them time, because the fact is they do not have the political will to make any cuts that have not already been suggested by the Democrats. The budget can’t be fixed without raising taxes and they have already eliminated that possibility.