CNN’s Anderson Cooper had a straightforward question for Rep. Michele Bachmann last night: Now that Republicans have the majority in the U.S. House, what spending cuts will they make to balance the budget? Republicans have talked about dismantling the Department of Energy, the Department of Education and doing away with corporate income tax. While Bachmann refused to name any specific programs she’d cut, she did have one case of “massive overspending”: President Obama’s upcoming trip to India. One problem with that: The cost of the trip she repeatedly cites is massively overestimated.
Bachmann told Cooper that Obama’s south Asian trip will cost taxpayers “$200 million a day” and represents “the kind of over-the-top spending” that’s rampant in Washington.
“No one really knows the cost, because for security reasons they don’t disclose the cost,” Cooper countered. “So this idea that it’s $200 million is simply made up.”
Confirmed: Bachmann seeking GOP leadership post
by Andy Birkey
Rep. Michele Bachmann confirmed on Wednesday that she’ll seek a leadership post in Congress following the GOP takeover of the U.S. House. On her Facebook page, she announced she’ll be going after the number four spot in the leadership, Chairman of the House Republican Conference.
“Constitutional conservatives deserve a loud and clear voice within the GOP leadership, and Congresswoman Bachmann will be the perfect voice for that,” spokesman Sergio Gor said. “As we saw last night, Constitutional conservatives are what the American people want, not more of the same party establishment.”
Bachmann replied, “Well these are the numbers that have been coming out in the press.”
CNN fact-checked the claim, finding that the press report Bachmann cited was not American but Indian, and the $200 million per day figure came from an anonymous Indian source, “allegedly an Indian provincial official.”
“How he would know how much President Obama’s trip is costing, I don’t know,” Cooper mused.
The White House says the estimate repeated by Bachmann has “no basis in reality” and is “wildly inflated.” FactCheck agrees: Bachmann’s wrong.
When Cooper asked Bachmann for specific spending cuts she’d make to balance the budget – asking whether cuts to Social Security or Medicare are on the table – she wouldn’t answer.
“Well with cuts, we need to begin with a general budget. We need to reform Social Security so it can stand on its own… We can’t be about scaring senior citizens right now,” she said.
When asked what three areas she’d cut to offset the lost income from extending the Bush tax cuts, she wouldn’t name any. (“Eligibility levels may be too high,” she said in her most precise moment.)
So just how far off is that $200 million cost Bachmann cited?
CNN says that the most expensive presidential trip on record – Bill Clinton’s Asia trip – cost $50 million dollars – not per day, but for the entire trip.
The interview is the second in as many days where Bachmann has opted not to provide specifics on ideas she actively campaigned on. Tuesday night, she refused to answer MSNBC host Chris Matthews questions about whether the new Republican majority would use its subpoena power to investigate Democrats in Congress. This summer she told a Republican group that “all we should do is issue subpoenas and have one hearing after another.”