Diary

Cuts? What Budget Cuts? He Never Promised Cuts!

The following is a transcript from the 3rd Presidential Debate (10-15-08) between McCain and Obama on the topic of budgets. It is especially relevant now.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Let’s go to another topic. It’s related. So if you have other things you want to say, you can get back to that. This question goes to you first, Senator Obama. We found out yesterday that this year’s deficit will reach an astounding record high $455 billion. Some experts say it could go to $1 trillion next year. Both of you have said you want to reduce the deficit, but the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget ran the numbers on both of your proposals and they say the cost of your proposals, even with the savings you claim can be made, each will add more than $200 billion to the deficit. Aren’t you both ignoring reality? Won’t some of the programs you are proposing have to be trimmed, postponed, even eliminated? Give us some specifics on what you’re going to cut back. Senator Obama?

OBAMA: Well, first of all, I think it’s important for the American public to understand that the $750 billion rescue package, if it’s structured properly, and, as president, I will make sure it’s structured properly, means that ultimately taxpayers get their money back, and that’s important to understand. But there is no doubt that we’ve been living beyond our means and we’re going to have to make some adjustments. Now, what I’ve done throughout this campaign is to propose a net spending cut. I haven’t made a promise about…

SCHIEFFER: But you’re going to have to cut some of these programs, certainly.

OBAMA: Absolutely. So let me get to that. What I want to emphasize, though, is that I have been a strong proponent of pay-as- you-go. Every dollar that I’ve proposed, I’ve proposed an additional cut so that it matches. And some of the cuts, just to give you an example, we spend $15 billion a year on subsidies to insurance companies. It doesn’t — under the Medicare plan — it doesn’t help seniors get any better. It’s not improving our health care system. It’s just a giveaway. We need to eliminate a whole host of programs that don’t work. And I want to go through the federal budget line by line, page by page, programs that don’t work, we should cut. Programs that we need, we should make them work better. Now, what is true is that Senator McCain and I have a difference in terms of the need to invest in America and the American people. I mentioned health care earlier. If we make investments now so that people have coverage, that we are preventing diseases, that will save on Medicare and Medicaid in the future. If we invest in a serious energy policy, that will save in the amount of money we’re borrowing from China to send to Saudi Arabia. If we invest now in our young people and their ability to go to college, that will allow them to drive this economy into the 21st century. But what is absolutely true is that, once we get through this economic crisis and some of the specific proposals to get us out of this slump, that we’re not going to be able to go back to our profligate ways. And we’re going to have to embrace a culture and an ethic of responsibility, all of us, corporations, the federal government, and individuals out there who may be living beyond their means.

SCHIEFFER: Time’s up.

Did he ever say what he would cut? Of course, if Obama answered truthfully he would have said that he would cut absolutely nothing but defense and increase everything else. Not just increase but create a few new projects as well. I wonder if he was thinking then about not letting a good crisis go to waste?