Panel on Obama's Spending Plans

Panel on Obama's Spending Plans

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume - November 25, 2008


OBAMA: In these challenging times when we're facing both rising deficits and a shrinking economy, budget reform is not an option, it's a necessity. We can't sustain a system that bleeds billions of taxpayer dollars on programs that have outlived their usefulness or exist solely because the power of politicians, lobbyists, or interest groups.


HUME: Well, we have heard that before, but not usually from someone who the day earlier was talking about a stimulus spending program amounting to the hundreds of billions of dollars, and some say it could go as high as a trillion.

But, after all, this is Barack Obama, and one presumes if all goes well, he will be able to do anything.

Some thoughts on all this now from Fred Barnes, executive editor of "The Weekly Standard," Mort Kondracke, executive editor of "Roll Call," and the syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, FOX News contributors all.

Well, he named the head of the Congressional Budget Office, a man who seems generally respected by people on both sides, and, as he put it, the man who knows--Peter Orszag knows where the bodies are buried, and I guess Obama hopes the bodies and the billions are buried in the federal budget.

But what about this, Mort? I don't know if this is audacity, but maybe it is.

MORT KONDRACKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "ROLL CALL": I think it is a bow to the blue dogs of the world, the fiscal responsibility people-

HUME: In the Democratic Party.

KONDRACKE: The blue dogs are Democrats, but there are fiscal responsibility people all over the country, independents a lot of them. And, basically, the rules that Orszag is supposed to follow are no pork in all these hundreds of billions of dollars in spending--

HUME: How are you going to build infrastructure with no pork?

KONDRACKE: Well, you build needed, necessary projects, and he says he's not going to do it--look, you can be skeptical if you like. That's what the rule is.

Secondly, cut wasteful programs. And he mentioned farm subsidies as an example. That's a juicy one.

HUME: We wish him well doing that.


And then spend money to improve the long-term economic future of the economy, including things like health, IT, and energy, clean energy projects, and stuff like that.

And lastly, and the big one is entitlement reform, I guess. Orszag has a plan for when the recession is over that we can get the structural deficit, which is monstrous, under control.

Now, the problem is that during the campaign he talked about Social Security reform. No cuts in benefits for anybody, any senior or any future senior.

That just won't fly. You cannot tax your way into making Social Security solvent.

HUME: It also depends on what you mean by the word "cut." In Washington "cut" means something that doesn't grow, and in Washington anything that doesn't grow as fast as it was previously scheduled to is called a cut. Fred, what do you make of all this?

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": When I was there hearing that from Barack Obama, I just rolled my eyes.

Remember zero-based budgeting with Jimmy Carter? Remember the Grace Commission under Ronald Reagan? And now this poor Peter guy will have to go through page by page, line by line.

It really is preposterous. On the one hand-and, Brit, I think you pointed out, he is, Barack Obama is proposing one of the great spending binges of all time, and then we're going to attack the structural deficit. Come on. It's silly.

I was glad to hear Mort at least have one note of skepticism at the end on Social Security, because he seemed to be a dreamer on the rest of that stuff.

I could care less what their rules are, what they're looking for. It isn't going to happen.

HUME: Why isn't it going to happen? Is it not going to happen because he doesn't want to do it, or--

BARNES: Because everything you want to cut has a lobby, has a constituency that will fight for it that doesn't think any of the stuff they get is pork.

He cited this $49 million of farm subsidies that went to farmers that made over $2.5 million a year. But that doesn't matter, $49 million. It is the $300 billion farm program that matters. And, of course, Obama voted for it.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Here is the great irony. He campaigns relentlessly as the man who would drive the lobbyists out of the temple. And he repeats it again today--he will cut the programs, and they will not exist because of the power of the politicians no lobbies, no interest groups.

But he is a man who will preside, even without the liberal promise, even a Republican would have presided over the most massive spending probably in American history, which will invite more lobbying than ever seen in American history.

In the past lobbying occurred at the margins-a break in taxes here, a regulation here, a subsidy here. Now lobbying is about life and death. You're really going to be called a bank and rescued, or you are going to die. You are going to get a check from Washington for Detroit, or you're not.

So the stakes are enormously higher. The amount of money is unaccountably higher, with a whole bunch of extra zeros. It will be the greatest lobbying effort and frenzy in the history of the country despite Obama. It is not his fault. It is because he is coming in at a time in which lobbying is at a premium.

The center of power in America used to be divided between politics in Washington and the money in New York. Well, New York is out of money. It's now in Washington holding out its cup. So all the power is in Washington, and it will be an explosion of lobbying.

HUME: OK, there will be an explosion of lobbying. Will it mean that the explosion of spending, which is in the near term to stimulate the economy, will end, and is there any hope in your mind there will be budget reform after that?


HUME: Mort?

KONDRACKE: No. Look, it is simply unsustainable over time. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. You will have to double taxes in about 2030 in order to pay for entitlement if we don't get them under control. And we're not going to double taxes.

KRAUTHAMMER: Nixon economist Ben Stein once said if something can't continue, it won't. It was the father of Ben Stein. In Washington, it does.

BARNES: Of course it does.

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FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume


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