On Meet the Press, David Gregory pressed the top Republican campaigners – Senator John Cornyn and Congressman Pete Sessions, both of Texas – on government spending. So what are you going to cut? I love that question. It’s journalistic. It’s the best of the tradecraft. The politician is playing his card, acting as if he’s got a hand when he doesn’t – as if, in this case, he’s got a plan to cut the deficit when he doesn’t. And here’s Gregory, calling their bluff: Show me what you got. You’re here bashing the other side for spending too much. You say you want to cut spending. Okay, Senator and Congressman, you’re the two folks out there raising money for Republicans to take over the Congress. You’re out there hitting the Democrats for not cutting back on spending, blasting the $1.6 trillion deficit this year. Now show me your cuts. Nada. Cornyn and Sessions had nothing, no plan to cut the deficit, nothing. I’m not surprised … just depressed. How many years have we put up with this? Yes, from both sides – but Republicans used to be the party of “fiscal responsibility.” You know, cash and carry, not buying something you can’t afford. That was when the party was based in the Midwest heartland, when Republicans thought like farmers and small business folk. They knew the cost of things and haggled over prices and squeezed the budget, both at the store and at the kitchen table, so that they could stay out of debt. That party of Bob Taft and Jerry Ford and, later, Bob Dole, is gone – G-O-N-E. What’s left is the party of supply-side, see-you-later budgeting, “dynamic scorekeeping” and all the rest. Ronald Reagan started this with his promise to cut the deficit by eliminating “waste, fraud and abuse” from government spending. That was a smokescreen for “I’m not going to tell you what I want to cut because you’ll kill me for it.” Watch Cornyn and Sessions scramble to find the rhetorical ploy. It won’t be “I’ll gladly pay you on Tuesday for a hamburger today” – that was Wimpy in the Popeye cartoons – but it will be exactly that in other, cleverly chosen, words. And it’ll still be a bluff, like they tried on David Gregory on Sunday morning.
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