The Republican Senate candidate suggests a 40 percent cut to balance federal budget.
During a town hall meeting-cum-conservative rally in Orem last night, Mike Lee harped on a familiar theme—balancing the budget—but also threw out a number that he thinks would be required to make it happen in the first year.
Forty percent. That's right, 40 percent cuts to the federal budget, almost across the board. In fact, there are only a few areas that he would support being spared, most notably Social Security and the defense budget, which he would "economize." All other departments, however, would have to slash, burn or whatever else it would take to make the cuts.
The 40 percent estimate was part of an answer to a question about how Republicans will handle the expiring Bush tax cuts and the spiraling debt, should they take over Congress. The questioner, who Lee called "bishop," suggested that the current Congress was setting up the Republicans for failure by making them decide between the tax cuts and passing a budget.
Lee said he'd "call their bluff" by first passing the tax cuts and forcing President Obama to sign them or veto them. Then, pass a balanced budget, which "would require about a 40 percent cut," and force Obama to either sign it or shutdown the government. The prospect of such a showdown between Obama and Republicans, in fact, made Lee "giddy."
When asked about it Friday afternoon, Lee said that Thursday night was the first time he'd used the 40 percent figure. It also seems that it is the first time that number has been thrown around nationally, as well, although Matt Kibbe, with the conservative group Freedom Works, suggested in an Oct. 18 Wall Street Journal article that 20 percent cuts would be beneficial.
Lee said the 40 percent wasn't set in stone, but merely an estimate. Furthermore, it would depend on many shifting factors, especially the economy. But it's probably close to what would need to happen.
"It's an example of the kind of aggressive approach we'd have to take," he said.
During the Thursday night meeting, however, he said that he thought the new Congress would have the guts to take such drastic measures because of the influx of conservatives, especially in the Senate. That would happen, in large part, because the current moderate Republicans would shift to the right.
Significant cuts to the federal budget have become a discussion topic for voters in the past few days, Lee said, because of the planned cuts in Britain. But even those are "only" 19 percent, and include significant rollbacks in military spending.