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Fiorina Refuses To Answer Wallace’s Question: Name One Single Entitlement Expenditure You’re Willing To Cut

Reported by Ellen - October 17, 2010 -

Chris Wallace showed some real journalistic integrity on Fox News Sunday today as he pressed Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina to specify how she’d pay for the $4 trillion cost of extending the Bush tax cuts. Fiorina tried to wriggle out of the question by saying she’d “put every agency budget up on the internet for everyone to see, ban earmarks, and we ought to give citizens the opportunity to desginate up to 10% of their federal income tax toward debt reduction.” But Wallace repeatedly highlighted the non-responsiveness of her answers, leaving Fiorina looking foolish and smarmy – especially when she insisted that her lack of specifics was “not a question of not wanting to answer it!” OK, so maybe she couldn’t answer it. That wouldn't exactly make her look better.

Fiorina tried to pretend she was answering the question by suggesting that the real solution to reducing the deficit is to cut out waste. But she dithered and dodged, rather than saying outright to Wallace what her thoughts were about cutting entitlements. She obviously thought or hoped she’d deflect attention from her inability or refusal to answer. But Wallace wasn’t buying it. Think Progress calculated that Wallace tried and failed seven times to get a straight answer out of her.

The line of questioning begins at about the 2:06 mark in the video below.

Wallace: You’re campaigning, and you just kind of alluded to it, to your record as a tough, bottom line, former business executive. But you want to extend all, all the Bush tax cuts, which would add 4 trillion to the deficit. You say, “Balance the budget by cutting spending.” Question, as a bottom line businesswoman, where are you going to find $4 trillion to cut?

Fiorina: Well, let’s just start with the fact that… spending has skyrocketed out of control in the last two years… We don’t know how taxpayer money is spent in Washington, D.C, which is why I think we ought to put every agency budget up on the internet for everyone to see, think we ought to ban earmarks, I think we ought to give citizens the opportunity to designate up to 10% of their federal income tax toward debt reduction. If we did that, we would reduce our debt by $95 billion a year.

Wallace: But, but, but, Miss Fiorina, the traditional ways that people talk about …discretionary, non-defense spending is only 16% of the budget. You could cut all of that out, all for education and energy, and for police support and government worker support around the country, it wouldn’t be anywhere close to $4 trillion. Where are you going to get that kind of money if you extend all of the Bush-era tax cuts. That only adds to the deficit. That doesn’t even deal with the deficit we already have.

Fiorina: Well, of course, first the thing that we need to do, to deal with our debt and our deficit is to both cut spending and grow the economy. That’s fundamentally what we have to do. Those tax cuts are central to growing the economy. Indeed, I would argue there are some additional tax cuts we need to make… Look, the truth is that politicians, career politicians like (Fiorina’s opponent) Barbara Boxer… somehow never get around to the business of asking the fundamental questions that voters want asked now: How are you spending our money? Why is it that every agency gets more money every year regardless of their performance?

Wallace: Miss Fiorina… let me ask you a specific question because I still haven’t gotten many specifics on how you will cut $4 trillion and even more out of the budget. Back when there was talk about a non-partisan, or a bipartisan deficit, debt commission you blasted that idea in January and said, “We already know all the solutions. We don’t need another commission to study it.” So now, as a non-career politician, the anti-Barbara Boxer, you tell me specifically what are you going to do to cut the billions, the trillions of dollars in entitlements?

Fiorina: First, I didn’t blast the commission saying we already had all the solutions. I blasted the commission because I believed it was a feint for tax increases. And indeed we are now hearing, coming out of Washington, D.C., that a value-added tax is going to be one of the recommendations of that commission.

Wallace: But forgive me, Miss Fiorina, where are you going to cut entitlements? What benefits are you going to cut? What eligibilities are you going to change?

Fiorina: Chris, I have to say, with all due respect, you’re asking a typical political question… When we have 22% of our federal government programs that are not meeting their objectives, when we have at least two non-partisan studies that suggest that there is up to half a trillion dollars worth of waste in the federal government budget, let us please get after that first before we start talking about cutting entitlements.

Wallace: It may be a typical political question, Miss Fiorina, but that’s where the money is. The money is in Medicare, the money is in Social Security. We’ve got the baby-boomers coming. There is gonna be a huge explosion of entitlement spending and you call it a political question when I ask you to name one single entitlement expenditure you’re willing to cut.

Fiorina: Chris, I believe that to deal with entitlement reform, which we must deal with, we ought to put every possible solution up on the table, except we should be very clear that we are not going to cut benefits to those nearing retirement or those in retirement. But having said all of that, for years and years, career politicians, frankly of both parties, have said, ‘Oh, no, the only way to cut spending is to deal with entitlements, it’s the political third rail.’ And then they never get about the business of cutting out waste and inefficiency.

Wallace: But we’ve been talking about waste, fraud and inefficiency for 30 years! …There isn’t that kind of money in waste, fraud and inefficiency… I’m going to try one last time, and if you don’t want to answer it, Miss Fiorina, you don’t have to.

Fiorina: It’s not a question of not wanting to answer it!

Wallace: Let me ask the question, if I may, please. You’re not willing to put forward a single benefit – I’m not even talking about the people 60 or let alone 65, or 70. I’m talking about people under 55. You’re not willing to say there’s a single benefit eligibility for Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security that you’re willing to say “Yeah, I would cut that?”

Fiorina: What I think we need to do to engage the American people in a conversation about entitlement reform is to have a bipartisan group of people who come together and put every solution on the table, every alternative on the table. And then we ought to engage in a long conversation with the American people so they understand the choices.

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