Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) — who last won the Ames, Iowa Republican presidential primary straw poll — has been trying to spin S&P’s downgrade of U.S. credit as something other than a “blast at Republicans.” Though S&P cited GOP intransigence on taxes, the use of the debt ceiling as a political football, and the very existence of “default deniers” (of which Bachmann is one) as reasons for the downgrade, Bachmann has claimed that S&P “essentially proved me right.”
Today, ABC’s Jake Tapper asked Bachmann what government spending she would have cut if her plan to simply not raise the debt ceiling were adopted. (Failing to raise the debt ceiling would have forced the government to cut 40 percent of its spending overnight.) Bachmann refused to answer, instead laying out the things she wouldn’t have cut, including military spending and Social Security:
TAPPER: Rick Santorum, who came in fourth in the straw poll, called your position on just refusing to raise the debt ceiling, he said it was just irresponsible and outrageous, since immediately the government would have to cut 40 percent of the government. What cuts would you make?
BACHMANN: Well, it’s not outrageous at all. What’s outrageous is turning us into the biggest debtor in the history of the world. No nation has ever been in debt to the level that we are, and it wasn;t that long ago that we were the world’s largest creditor. We have to get our house in order. This year alone, we brought in $2.2 trillion in revenue from all the taxes we pay, and then we spent not only every penny of that, but we spent $1.5 trillion more.
TAPPER: Right, so what would you cut? What would you cut?
BACHMANN: Well, immediately what need to do is recognize that we will tell the markets that we will pay the interest on the debt, don’t worry about default. Number two, we will pay our military, and anyone who’s currently on Social Security, you get paid. But beyond that, I would bring all members of Congress together — and this isn’t some project for ten years, fifteen years down the road — and we’re going to reform entitlements.
A 40 percent cut in government spending that exempts the military and Social Security would mean cutting all other programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, and education spending, by nearly 90 percent. Even then, depending on the amount of revenue that would be coming in on a given day, Social Security may not be safe. A report from the Bipartisan Policy Center showed that, if the debt ceiling had been breached on August 2, the government would not have enough revenue on August 3 to cover all of the Social Security checks that were due.
Bachmann has been desperately trying to spin her way out of the debt ceiling debacle’s aftermath, since S&P has unambiguously said that the slew of ideas the GOP put forward during that debate would have made U.S. creditworthiness worse. As S&P senior director Joydeep Mukherji noted about the country’s default deniers, “that a country even has such voices, albeit a minority, is something notable. This kind of rhetoric is not common amongst AAA sovereigns.”