Monday night, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was pressed by Chris Matthews to identify what programs he would eliminate in order to address the deficit, and all Ryan could come up with was repealing the remaining stimulus and TARP funds. Ryan was unable to name a program that affects the long-term deficit, and by advocating for the elimination of the stimulus he was endorsing a tax increase on the middle class.
However, at least Ryan was able to positively identify something that he would cut. Today, Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) went on MSNBC and put on an even less impressive performance. Mike Barnacle begged Shadegg to identify just one specific program that he would axe, but Shadegg fell back on the conservative tactic of calling for an across the board cut on all programs:
BARNACLE: We have had an endless stream of members of Congress and the United States Senate on here over the past two or three years and whenever they are asked the question, ‘specifically, what would you cut to trim spending in the federal government,’ everybody agrees it’s a huge problem, we have to soak our faces in cement here on the set to prevent ourselves from laughing out loud at the non-answers we get. So my question to you, long-winded question here, is, can you please, I’m begging you, give me just one program you’d cut? We’ll start with just one program you’d cut.
SHADEGG: Well, there are lots of programs I would cut. I would begin by an across the board cut on all spending because I think we need to spread this…I’d say five percent across the board tomorrow on every single program, including defense, then you’d begin the process in the right direction.
This is extremely lazy of Shadegg, and shows that he’s fundamentally disinterested in actually addressing the deficit. An across the board cut makes no attempt to prioritize between vital, necessary programs that people depend upon and unnecessary, wasteful spending. It simply takes the same chunk out of everything. Is Shadegg willing to cut veteran’s health care or Social Security benefits by five percent tomorrow? How about border enforcement, food stamps, homeland security, the FBI, or national park funding? The list goes on and on.
But it’s not that hard to come up with something in the federal budget that actually can be cut. Here are some suggestions: the second engine for the F-35 and the C-17 transport plane, both of which the Pentagon doesn’t want. How about the $45 billion in subsidies we give to Big Oil companies? There’s a tax subsidy for NASCAR track owners that can certainly go. Agriculture subsidies and subsidies for ethanol, which both benefit huge corporations, need to be cut. There are also a handful of Army Corps of Engineers projects that are environmentally and economically disastrous that can certainly come to an end.
At the same time, revenue needs to be responsibly raised by allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire, ending the preferential tax treatment that hedge fund managers receive, reinstating the estate tax, cracking down on offshore tax havens, and closing the S-corp tax loophole. But Shadegg isn’t interested in grappling with any of the realities of the budget, instead opting for a talking point that proves nothing besides his own lack of credibility on the issue.