As debate on the 2010 budget began in the Senate today, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) appeared on CNBC to explain an amendment to the bill that he is proposing. Sessions’ plan is to implement a two year federal spending freeze, to be followed by three years with no more than one percent spending growth. Sessions characterized the amendment as “perfectly responsible.”
Noting that “it’s very easy to throw rocks and shoot spitballs,” CNBC’s Donny Deutsch then asked Sessions three times where in the budget he would cut spending. Sessions refused to answer each time, finally claiming that he can’t specify cuts because he doesn’t “have access” to the same information that President Barack Obama does. Watch it:
Of course, a spending freeze is only “perfectly responsible” if you find it perfectly responsible to endanger the economic recovery with anti-stimulus. Sessions doesn’t seem to grasp this at all, as his justification for the freeze is that the stimulus was enacted.
And Deutsch, who is emerging as the occasional voice of reason at CNBC, was spot-on in pressing Sessions as to where he would make cuts. As Hilzoy noted, Republicans have essentially “proposed a whole raft of new tax cuts and only one specific spending cut, ‘ending the bailouts.’” Indeed, there are legitimate debates to be had about priorities in the budget — and there are probably woefully inefficient and fraud-ridden programs that can be pared back — but the Republican position has been to advocate the “dramatic effect” of a spending freeze. Given the economic climate that we’re in, that’s simply not productive.