Deficit fraud Pat Toomey, who is running for the Senate on the Republican ticket in Pennsylvania, has already made it abundantly clear that he has no real interest in tackling the country’s budget deficit. After all, his main policy ideas — extending the Bush tax cuts and repealing the Affordable Care Act — would make the deficit significantly worse.
Last night, Toomey made is even more apparent that he doesn’t have any substantive ideas for reducing the deficit. When asked by CNBC’s Larry Kudlow what he would cut from the budget to offset some of the cost of the giant tax cuts he suggested (including a 10 percent cut in the corporate tax), Toomey relied on the standard conservative tropes of ending bailouts and rescinding the stimulus, neither of which does anything to reduce the structural deficit. He then said he would end earmarks (which would reduce the budget by less than one percent) and managed to identify just one specific spending cut — study abroad programs for students:
Well, I’d bring an end to bailouts. I would rescind the unspent portion of the stimulus. I would prohibit earmarks…I’d also like to consolidate programs. You know, we discovered 75 different programs between the Departments of State and Education that all subsidize overseas travel for students, in one way or another. It’s ridiculous! We don’t need 75 such programs. So there’s a lot of places.
I suppose Toomey deserves some credit here, as he was at least able to point to one semi-specific part of the budget, unlike so many of his Republican counterparts. But still, the portion of the budget Toomey is willing to cut is comically small.
Funding for study abroad and cultural exchange — including for the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship Program — amounts to a whopping $635 million, or 0.02 percent of the nation’s budget. Another portion of this funding goes to the National Security Education Program, which pays for students to study languages and cultures vital to U.S. national security, with a particular emphasis on Middle Eastern and Asian languages. Students are also allowed to apply their Pell Grants to study abroad.
And of course, Toomey merely said he would consolidate these programs, not eliminate them entirely, so he wouldn’t even save the full 0.02 percent. He completely failed to mention anything in the portions of the budget that actually drive the deficit (health care spending, defense spending, and massive tax cuts), and advocated for more than $4 trillion in additional budget-busting tax cuts. At this point, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised by Republicans’ complete inability to identify anything significant in the budget that they would cut, but still, Toomey needs to be able to do better than this.