Campaigning before the recent midterm elections, House Republicans were adamant that, if given power, they would cut government spending. However, when pressed for specifics, many were unable to list even one single item they would cut from the budget. “The line-item will be across-the-board,” Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) embarrassingly responded when asked for specific cuts.
Speaker of the House John Boehner was no stranger to the promise to cut government spending. In fact, he promised over and over for months to do everything he could to reduce the budget:
“We need to cut spending. That’s what the American people want. That’s what the economy needs.” [12/17/10]
“Let’s be clear, if we actually want to help our economy get back on track and to begin creating jobs, we need to end the job-killing spending binge. We need to cut spending significantly.” [12/17/10]
“Our new majority will prepare to do things differently, to take a new approach that hasn’t been tried in Washington before by either party. It starts with cutting spending instead of increasing it.” [11/3/10]
“We will not solve our fiscal challenges until we cut spending.” [8/25/10]
“If we want to solve the budget problem, we’ve got to have a healthy economy and we have to get our arms around the runaway spending that’s going on in Washington, D.C.” [8/9/10]
“And if in fact we’re elected to the majority you’re going to see us cut spending. You’re going to see us revive the economy and reform the way Congress does it job.” [10/5/10]
“If the lame-duck Congress is unwilling to cut spending and permanently stop all the tax hikes, the new House majority will act in January.” [12/1/10]
“Republicans have been consistently focused on offering better solutions to cut spending now.” [6/21/10]
“We will never get our economy out of the ditch until we cut spending and have real economic growth.” [8/30/10]
However, now that he holds the speaker’s gavel, it seems that Boehner is no better than his colleagues at actually identifying specifics in the budget that he would like to see eliminated. In an interview set to air tonight, NBC’s Brian Williams asked Boehner to name a specific item he’d cut, and Boehner couldn’t deliver:
WILLIAMS: Name a program right now that we could do without.
BOEHNER: I don’t think I have one off the top of my head.
During just their first couple of days in control of the House, Republicans have voided loads of promises when it comes to the budget, including halving their promised budget cuts for the current year (cuts which they now say were “hypothetical”) and exempting their first bill from their own budget rules.
ThinkProgress intern Paul Breer contributed research to this post. Cross-posted on The Wonk Room.