Tallying The Spending Cuts In The Senate Debt Plan: Today’s Qs for O’s WH – 7/27/2011

Jul 27, 2011 3:32pm

ABC News' Mary Bruce (@marykbruce) reports: 

BRUCE:  What's your response to critics who say the Reid plan, which the president supports, claims to save more money than it actually does because it includes some savings from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is money that would never have actually been spent anyway?

CARNEY:  Well, let's examine that.  OK, there are two points to make.  First of all, the savings gleaned by winding down the wars in Afghanistan are savings created by policy decisions.  If you make a policy decision, if you were so callous as to do so, to slash Social Security benefits or Medicare benefits or education spending, you would then, as you made a budget, count that as savings, right?  Paul Ryan, when he submitted his budget, counted what they call OCO savings in his budget because these are — this is the result, as any other policy decision you make is a choice about how much money to spend, and that's what these decisions are.  You're saying — I mean, if you're asking me are — is the — you know, are we going to save a trillion dollars because of the policy decisions that this president made, I'd say yes.  And I encourage you to write and talk about it because those are wise policy decisions for our national security interests and for our fiscal health. So they absolutely are legitimate.  They're a part of any serious bipartisan compromise that has been discussed by any major player in this town all year.  OK? 

But we've also identified, in great detail, significant spending cuts in domestic spending, significant spending cuts in Pentagon spending, extraordinarily difficult savings in entitlement programs that we would be willing — that the president would be willing to make a case for to his own party in the name of accomplishing something very big that would fix this problem for a — for a long period of time and put us on sound economic footing for the 21st century. 

Those are tough choices.  That's what leaders do.  They lead. They don't cater to their base. 

I mean, we're all — look, I get that it's politics and we — you know, people are — you know, there's a lot of politics in Washington. That's of course how it is and how it should be.  But there are times when you have to make hard choices.  There are times when you have to say:  You know what?  I'll suffer some losses here.  I will — I won't bring my whole party with me, but I know that I have to do this, because the country requires it. This is one of those times.  

BRUCE:  And also, when is the last time the president spoke with the speaker?  Did they talk –

CARNEY:  You know, we're not reading out individual conversations.  I — you know, so I'm not going to do that now.  I can just assure you that, broadly speaking, there are lots of conversations happening between senior people in the administration, up to the highest levels, if you will, and senior people in both houses of Congress and obviously the staff.  I mean, we are looking — you know, we are eager to get the kind of compromise that will resolve this in a way that will not prolong the uncertainty that is so clearly a drag on our economy.

And when you look at, you know, these measure — I mean, the measure that Senator Reid put forward, I — as others have pointed out — (chuckles) — it's like wait, there are no up-front — there's no up-front revenue.  

 Well, good point, right?  Not the balanced approach that we would ideally want to see and therefore not of the total size of deficit reduction that we would want to see — it has within it the potential for that, in a — in a committee that would look at the hard issues of entitlement reform and tax reform.  But we're willing to compromise because we've got to get this done. 

We're the United States of America.  There are other — you know, we pay our bills.  We honor our obligations.  We grow our economy, and we create jobs.  It's time to do that and focus on the important things.

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