Democrats don’t quite know what sort of spending problem we have. But they’re sure it’s one that doesn’t require cutting anything.
It has been grimly amusing over the last few weeks to watch senior Democrats try to decide what kind of spending problem, if any, we actually have—as well as what, if anything, they might be willing to do about it.
At the beginning of the year, President Obama reportedlytold GOP House Speaker John Boehner that we don’t have a spending problem. Instead, he said, we have a health care spending problem. Last week, Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was even more dismissive. “It is almost a false argument to say that we have a spending problem,” she said. “We have a budget deficit problem.”
A day later, White House press secretary Jay Carney offered a sort of clarification, or at least an update: “Of course, the president believes that we have a spending problem,” he said at a White House briefing. And that problem, Carney said, is“specifically driven by” health care spending. “The fact of the matter,” Carney continued, “is we need to reduce our healthcare costs. Funnily enough, recognizing that fact, the president took action to do just that through the Affordable Care Act, which has been scored by the CBO to significantly reduce our health care costs going forward.”
Each of these professional Democrats is working from the same talking point playbook. But they’re not all telling quite the same story.