Opinion L.A.

Observations and provocations
from The Times' Opinion staff

« Previous Post | Opinion L.A. Home | Next Post »

Carly Fiorina's spending-cut silence

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


Comments () | Archives (17)

The comments to this entry are closed.


bimbo! another sarah palin!

Alex Kendall

You don't seem to understand the business approach versus the standard political approach. In business, we look to cut waste before cutting benefits; and, after that, we seek to optimize revenues, and only after not achieving either objective we then look at modifying the infrastructure, if absolutely necessary. Carly did answer the question. The reality is that you didn't like the answer. And by the way, does anyone really feel that Boxer would reduce government spending? Really!

Jon Healey

@Alex -- In business, "waste" is spending that's inefficient. In government, "waste" is programs that the other party favors. It's not too much to ask politicians to make clear which programs they consider wasteful before we vote for them, because chances are those are someone else's sacred cow.

A good example is Medicare Advantage. In Medicare Advantage, taxpayers pay more than $1 to get $1 worth of benefits delivered to Medicare recipients. It's inefficient. But it's a favorite program of Republicans because it's a foot in the door toward the privatization of Medicare. I'm not saying that pejoratively -- there's an argument to be made that the government isn't the right administrator for Medicare (although I'm not someone who makes that argument). When Democrats included deep cuts to the Medicare Advantage subsidies in the healthcare reform law, they characterized it as cutting wasteful spending. Republicans had a somewhat different interpretation. :-)

Fiorina's summary of the problem -- "The budget just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger" -- is just shallow posturing. The budget has long grown as the population has grown, and it always balloons when the economy tanks because of the increased demand for safety-net programs. The problem is what's projected to happen after the economy gets back to normal -- thanks largely to healthcare costs, the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, defense spending and rising interest payments, neither spending nor revenues are expected to get back to their historical levels when measured against GDP.

That's why I think Paul is right. Being against "waste" is a dodge, and it doesn't begin to address the long-term problems that will really start to bite in the tail end of the six-year term Fiorina is running for. Voters are right to wonder what, specifically, she considers wasteful spending, and how she plans to approach the entitlement problems that are going to reach critical mass.

Mitchell Young

Shorter Fiorina to Wallace:

You're asking me to provide the Boxer campaign with a soundbite so they can run an ad saying: 'Carli Fiorina plans to cut *your* Social Security (or Medicare, or Unemployment Benefits)'

I decline.


As if Barbara has been ardent supporter of balanced budget without raising taxes, fees and burden for last 20 years!! Neither of these ladies have a clue to balance DC budget without raising taxes and yes DC budget has so much waste that almost every department can be trimmed down by 25% to produce a surplus. Just apply six sigma to DC government and go lean, the ones who do not get F grade and will be listed in hall of shame before next election.


Fiorina...too much bull even for a Fox News announcer! Now THAT'S an extremist!

Carly nearly bankrupted Hewlett-Packard. She's cut from he same inept cloth as Bush.

Maybe she can run for office in China or India...she sure sent a lot of HP jobs over there!

Libby Gadsen

The Conservative Republican political self analysis goes off the rails when they imagine the Republican Party to be much more anti-big-government or conservative than it has ever been in practice. Sometimes they acknowledge this when they want to enlist Reagan’s ghost to their cause to defend GOP's conservative credentials. But they seldom admit that the GOP’s actual record of governance comes closer to their vision of neoconservatism when they gave us a more family-friendly welfare state, amnesty for illegal aliens, an a interventionist foreign policy that is bankrupting us today (Iraq & Afgan wars costs $720 million per day). Largely ineffectual attempts to use “Small government” and “Tax Cuts” cry as a fiscal policy initiatives to reach out to constituencies during elections


This is nothing new, and isn't limited to just Republicans. Everyone, politicians and non-politicians alike, likes to talk about cutting taxes and balancing budgets (not even acknowledging that cutting revenue increases debts, just like it does for families), but to mention specific cuts could offend potential supporters. Better to be vague and imply just cutting "waste, fraud and abuse" will be sufficient, or, at worst, only other people will need to sacrifice. Cutting programs and balancing budges will be painful. Necessary, but painful.

Pasquino Marforio

This is supposed to be the Summer of The Recovery, thanks to "The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009".
$852 Billion dollars of 'targeted' borrowing for 'shovel-ready' infrastructure projects that would kick start our economy, as President Obama said.

It was supposed to return to our treasury $1.60 for every $1.00 the Democrat borrowed to pay for this bill, just like President Obama's Chief Economist, Christina Romer said.

It was supposed to keep unemployment below 8% and by now, we were supposed to be seeing over 200,000 jobs a month, added to the economy, just like Vice President Biden said.

And we were supposed to use the $2.72 Trillion Dollars it would return to the economy to pay off the deficit, just like Larry Summers said.

So instead, we find out that less than 3% of that money actually went to 'shovel-ready' projects.

But the next stimulous really, really, really will. We promise.

Nov 2, 2010. TEA.


The only way to really cut budget substantively is to look at the military. We have several military contracts that are unnecessary. Let me be clear, these are not contracts that would jeapardize the troops. We truly have unsustainable military spending. Morever, we have an income disparity that wider than it's been in 70 years. That can be alleviated by letting the Bush tax cuts expire. Many lament that we don't have the lifestyle that we had in the 50's. Well in the 50's we had higher tax rate. In fact, tax rates are at a historic low and we as Americans are not better off. The fact of matter is entitlements are politically popular. Medicare will not be cut. Social Security will not be cut. And once HCR gets up and running, it won't get cut either. Privatizing everything doesn't work. That has be evidenced by Blackwater, Accenture, and many other private contractors. Government needs to be cleaned up and be ethical so that it can do it's job of regulating and policing the "self regulators" of free enterprise.

The government can save money by not contracting out all services. It wastes money. Contractors charge twice as much and do less work. Just becuase they are not union does not ensure that the quality of their work is better. If they are subject matter experts such as unix or cobol programmers I understand, but we don't need to contract out Program management. We are paying 250k for a six month contract when a GS-12 employee salary with health benefits, for example, notice doing the math that is twice as much. The waste is in the collusion with government contracts which no one has the courage to address.


Carly Fiorina would be light years better than Barbara Boxer! Its time to send Boxer into retirement after 20+ years of strident liberal far left wing nonsense.


Just like Whitman- she's got nothing. All they can do is run attack ads, while offering nothing about how they will fix what is beyond broken. They just want to get a taxpayer funded paycheck and do nothing. We've already GOT that.


In a recent interview CBS chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer asked David Axelrod, the presidents chief advisor about foreign funding supporting the republicans "Mr. Axelrod, do you have any evidence that it's anything other than peanuts?"

"Well, do you have any evidence that it's not, Bob?"

A clear case of guilty until proven innocent.

Same thing here. Everyone is making such a big deal out of the fact the Fiorina didn't give a 30 minute campaign speech when asked the question, like most politicians would, doesn't mean a damn thing, except of course, to "journalist", more accurately known as "spin masters".

MEDIA ...give us a break....just report. We don't need you to "intepret" or "spin" every word that is spoken.


When was the last time you saw a woman to spend less on anything? Come on, get real. If she votes for spending cuts, how would her fat cat supporters make money off her?


He asked for a list, she answered with a concept. Classic CEO dodge.


I would vote for a circus animal, or even Carly Fiorina, before I would vote for Barbara Boxer.

James Evans

Being a 50 year old Californian I've seen Barbara Boxer long enough to know that most alternatives to her in the Senate would do both California and the United States good to be rid of her.

California has a problems that developed over the last 3 decades and by no coincidence Barbara Boxer has been in office for all 3 totaling 28 years.

Carly Fiorina has actually worked for a living. I won't say she is the best or the worst the republicans could offer but I believe she is a smart person who knows how to roll her sleeves up and do just that. WORK!

Boxer broke the law 10 years ago or more when she was granted special insider stock which she sold quickly for a profit and did so on multiple occasions. The money was never returned. She just puts it in a blind trust so Boxer is no beacon of honesty or integrity.

With Fiorina I have hope of the beginning of change for California and the country. Boxer is a bitter partisan on her best day and while it is great she likes the environment I don't find she represents efforts to make California a good place to live.

California has such high tax rates for its citizens who must pay that sales tax daily and so much welfare for people that get it on an ongoing basis that we need a commitiment to change that. Boxer is incapable and uncommitted to do what is right by the people.

I'll give Fiorina a chance and if she doesn't do a good job I'll vote for someone else next time as it should be. We should have gotten rid of Boxer years ago.

Dispite the Los Angeles Times trying to make Barbara Boxer out to be a bright hard working trail blazing woman we know who and what she has been and will continue to be. A woman who is not so bright
when it comes to the issues but is passionate on any stance she takes.

Time to say goodbye to Babs and hello Carly!



In Case You Missed It...



Recent Posts
Reading Supreme Court tea leaves on 'Obamacare' |  March 27, 2012, 5:47 pm »
Candidates go PG-13 on the press |  March 27, 2012, 5:45 am »
Santorum's faulty premise on healthcare reform |  March 26, 2012, 5:20 pm »


About the Bloggers
The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

In Case You Missed It...