January 23, 2011

Sunday School: 1/23/11

We’ll start with This Week on ABC.  The comment of the day comes from George Will, the baseball historian and conservative curmudgeon. Discussing  State of the Union addresses, Will noted that at times presidents have delivered their report in writing, but that “now we’ve turned this (SOTU) into this panorama in which – in an interminable speech, every president, regardless of party, tries to stroke every erogenous zone in the electorate.” Makes me want to slip into something more comfortable when I watch Obama's address on Tuesday.

NBC’s Meet the Press offered us Eric Cantor (R-VA), the House Majority Leader. He believes that Barack Obama is a US citizen, but didn't express much interest in shutting down discussion on this in the House. Cantor also spent some time trying to explain whether or not they’re going to meet the $100 billion savings this year, and whether or not everything’s on the table in terms of cuts. I think his answer to the second question is yes, but on the first I’m not sure if he said yes or no. He did say this about Social Security: “Anyone 55 and older in this country has got to know that their Social Security benefits will not be changed.  It is for all the younger people, those 54 and younger, we're going to have to have a serious discussion.”  Um, that means me.

Over on Fox News Sunday, another member of the Congressional leadership, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), echoed Cantor’s sentiment that everything’s on the table, saying that he’s told constituents “don’t assume that we can tackle this without impacting something you like.”  When asked about spending cuts, he indicated that they’re going to try and “reduce domestic discretionary spending as much as we possibly can that will get a signature by the President”, I think starting early to point fingers in case they don’t come close to what the Tea Party is interested in, which is a return to 2006 levels. Does anyone really remember what they spent in 2006?

Last this week, let’s check in with CBS News and Face the Nation. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) were guests. McCain, after saying some nice things about Obama, talked about spending cuts and I think did a perfect job of illustrating how hard it’s going to be to get anything done.  Host Bob Schieffer referenced Eric Cantor’s statement about cancer research being on the table, and pointed out that he (Schieffer) and McCain are both cancer survivors. Schieffer asked “Do you think that’s something where we can cut back?” and McCain answered “…And frankly, cancer research I think is one of the last things I’d go after.” Imagine that - not wanting to cut something that's personally significant. That kind of attitude is what got us where we are today. 

For his part, when asked the cancer research question, Schumer pointed out that the Republican Study Committee only focused on one part of the budget; logically, if you need to get all of your cuts from one place, you end up cutting thing like cancer research.  He didn't say he wouldn't but there, but it did note that “everyone knows there’s waste and inefficiency in the military budget” and “waste in the military is no better than waste in domestic spending.” Good for Chuck.