Democrats are in a tough spot. They spent an incredible amount of money on a giant stimulus package days after they gained control of the White House and obtained healthy margins over Republicans in both houses of Congress. Yet with unemployment still a major problem nearly two years later, they have little to show for it, other than the unverifiable claim that things would have otherwise been much worse. Meanwhile, the deficit has widened significantly.
Naturally, Republicans have seized this opportunity to reinvent themselves as the party of fiscal responsibility. That angers Democrats -- especially since Republicans won't say what specific spending they want to cut. But their decision not to reveal any detail on specific cuts is a great political strategy.
Take, for example, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) who appeared on CNBC's Squawk Box Friday morning. Anchor Joe Kernen asked Corker for some specifics on what he would cut. Here's what he said (full clip below):
Corker: I think all spending needs to be on the table.
Kernen: Everything's on the table?
Look, Secretary Gates will tell you, there's a lot of waste there. We need to streamline it.
Other than waste though?
Yeah, I mean that's an area where it's gonna be more difficult, let's face it, because it's our national security. It's the most important thing we do in Washington. But look, every single thing we do needs to be looked at. So I would say nothing's off the table. Nothing. Obviously, Medicare is $37 trillion in the hole as far as unfunded liabilities. We can't continue on that path.
But without rationing what do you do with Medicare?
Well, I think we need to look at things, I'm sorry, like means testing and other kinds of things. I mean the program cannot continue as it is. And you have to look at how payments are made. I mean the fact is it's a fee-for-service program with almost unlimited intakes. So we've got to look at outcomes. There are a lot of things that we could have done during this health care debate that we didn't do.
And from there he delved into more general fiscal policy talking points. As you can see, there aren't really any detailed specifics there. He essentially said that he wants some surgical cuts in defense and to find tricks to make Medicare cheaper. Basically, Republicans want to cut everything, but precisely what they cut will be determined once the election is over. It's very convenient