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Carly Fiorina's spending-cut silence

October 18, 2010 | 10:37 am

Big surprise: California GOP Senate hopeful Carly Fiorina can't name any meaningful spending reforms she would propose to balance the federal budget and pay for extending the Bush tax cuts she supports. Watch her interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace:

Fiorina's inability to name a single program she would cut reflects the GOP's broader refusal to back up its red-faced anger over charges of fiscal recklessness with anything resembling a credible solution, a topic The Times' editorial board addressed this past weekend. Instead, think tanks -- whose scholars don't have to worry about appeasing elderly voters protective of their Social Security and Medicare benefits  -- have picked up the slack, proposing reforms that even the fiscally conservative Republicans (except perhaps Wisconsin's Rep. Paul Ryan) would consider dead on arrival.

More to the point, the GOP's reluctance to identify specific spending cuts -- and the think tanks' willingness to do so -- shows that a lot of what drives deficit spending isn't waste, a point Republicans seem to acknowledge when they promise to preserve popular entitlement programs. In other words, this won't be as easy as Republicans have convinced voters it will be. Washington has committed itself to trillions of dollars in long-term spending it can't afford, requiring Congress to deeply slash entitlement programs and military spending, let the Bush tax cuts expire (even for middle-class taxpayers) or both. Republicans would do neither, as the only specific promises they've made show. Solid proposals are instead replaced with meaningless rhetoric such as House Majority Leader John A. Boehner's call to have "an adult conversation" with Americans on the problems facing the country.

Shameless as it would be, one can hope that the GOP's rhetoric over fiscal recklessness is nothing more than a political calculation to gain power; if it isn't, and the next Congress follows up on what its potential Republican majority promised, the results would be catastrophic. At least executives at news networks can count on interviews with deficit-hawk Republicans going viral.

-- Paul Thornton

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