Good catch last week by Pat Garofalo: House
Speaker John Boehner wants to cut government spending, but it's still difficult
to get him to name any programs that should be slashed. This was a theme during
the campaign and the lame duck session that followed; it remains true now that
he's taken over the House.

Here Boehner insists to Brian Williams that the defense budget
isn't sacred but then pivots to talking about how smart spending is better than
the wasteful kind. But first he declines to name any program that could simply
be axed--because he doesn't "have one off the top of [his] head":

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It's of course implausible that Boehner had lots of answers to
this question but couldn't come up with one on the spot because he neglected to
study his notes before going on TV. "Cut spending" has been his top talking
point for months, and he's got a pretty good-sized staff operation helping him
with details like "what do you mean by that?"

The real reason Boehner didn't answer the question is that he
doesn't have a good answer, because actually cutting spending is a lot harder
(and less popular) than saying, "Let's cut spending"--as I detailed in this
recent article in the Century (subscription required).


Steve Thorngate

The Century managing editor is also a church musician and songwriter.

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