Republicans Want To Cut Federal Spending But Have No Idea What Programs To Cut

Part of the GOP’s election strategy this year has been to try to claim that it is the Party of fiscal conservatism. As part of that campaign, Republicans regularly repeat the mantra that in order to get the deficit under control, the federal government needs to “cut spending” (despite also calling for $700 billion in tax cuts for the wealthy that aren’t paid for). They argue that if they were in control of government they would do just that. But all too often, when asked what spending cuts they would enact, Republicans don’t have an answer.

Yesterday on ABC’s Top Line, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) offered an example of the GOP’s obfuscation. Calling for extending all the Bush tax cuts, Gregg said, “The issue right now is the profligate spending of this Congress and this Presidency.” But when Gregg was asked for specific cuts, he couldn’t offer any:

HOST: Help us square this then. The increase in the deficit by extending the tax cuts, seems to me there’s not enough spending cuts that can be made to make up for the deficit that we’re continuing to build up.

GREGG: We’re building the deficit because of the spending, that’s where the deficit is coming from…that massive explosion of spending is where the problem is. It’s not on the revenue side, it’s on the spending side. So why put in all this additional spending. Why don’t you just starting cutting spending first because that is where the problem is.

Similarly, CNBC host Larry Kudlow asked GOP U.S. Senate candidate in California Carly Fiornia what she would cut. All she could muster was bringing spending back to 2008 levels. Another CNBC host asked Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) last month what he would cut. “We’ve got spending to cut in the short term what we’ve got is a huge problem in the long term,” said Cantor, who repeatedly couldn’t give an answer on what he would cut when pressed by the host.

And in March, ThinkProgress asked Rep. John Boozman (R-AR) repeatedly what he would cut in order to reduce federal spending and he couldn’t identify any specifics. Watch the video compilation:

Other Republicans have tried to answer this question but have come up a bit short. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said in July that he would “would rescind the unspent stimulus funds,” which at the time, meant that he would do away with $55 billion in middle class tax cuts. Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MI) suggested eliminating the Affordable Care Act, thinking it would save $1 trillion, but it would actually increase the deficit by $143 billion.