There were fireworks this afternoon as Contessa Brewer and Melissa Francis interviewed deficit peacock Senator Judd Gregg (R-N.H.). Gregg, as you know, is in favor of establishing a budget deficit commission that will insulate lawmakers from the cost of having to make tough budgetary choices while allowing them to pretend to be super-serious about reducing the federal deficit.
But Brewer and Francis wanted to ask Gregg what specific cuts he would advocate making to the budget -- would he, for example, eliminate funding for education and job skills programs?
Obviously, that was a big mistake! The last thing Gregg, as a budget politics uber-wimp, wants to do is get caught on the record recommending a specific set of cuts. That's precisely the sort of thing the wack-ass deficit commission is supposed to prevent. So, he responded with generic grumbling about how high the deficit was getting. But Francis and Brewer wanted Gregg to stow the peacock plumage: "If you don't believe we should have a $1.3 trillion budget, which programs are you willing to cut? Are you willing to tell schools, no money for you?"
Gregg, predictably, started freaking out, calling the questioning "dishonest" and "irresponsible." He went on to offer generics: he would "freeze discretionary spending" (of what programs, of course, he wouldn't say), "eliminate the TARP money" (whatever that means), "end the stimulus spending" (a platitude that basically masks the specific expenditures Gregg won't make on the record), and make "a major effort to reform our entitlement programs" (essentially meaningless, as I pointed out earlier, 97 Senators voted yesterday for an amendment to the failed budget commission that would leave Social Security out of the deficit reduction discussion).
Eventually, the whole discussion degenerated into this:
GREGG: I've made very specific proposals and I'm willing to stand by them. The problem is that this administration's view of governance is economic prosperity is created by growing the government dramatically. Then it gets misrepresented by people like yourself that say if you do this you're got to end up not funding education. That's the most irresponsible question.
BREWER: That wasn't the statement.
GREGG: There's a lot of irresponsible statements by reporter but that's the most.
FRANCIS: With respect she was asking what you would like to cut. Today.
BREWER: We appreciate your time.
GREGG: You can't be duplicitous about this. You can't make a representation and then claim you didn't make it. You know, it just shouldn't work that way. You've got to have some integrity on your side of this camera, too.
FRANCIS: She asked you what you would like to cut. She asked you if you would like to cut schools. You said no. That was your answer.
GREGG: Zero in education. Nobody suggesting that. Nobody is implying that. In your introduction to me, you said that, that education funding would be cut.
BREWER: No, I didn't, Senator.
You know that you're not making sense when your deficit reduction argument doesn't even fly with Melissa Francis.