Talking to New York Senator Chuck Schumer on Sunday's Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer said of a video statement released by President Obama on Saturday: "If I didn't know better and had my eyes closed I might have thought that was President Reagan talking." Schieffer specifically referred to Obama's call for spending cuts, noting: "It sounded very much like a speech that a Republican would make."
After Schumer promised his party was serious about deficit reduction, Schieffer proceeded to characterize Republican calls for spending cuts in much less flattering light: "Eric Cantor said this morning, under hard questioning I should add, that yes indeed cancer research would also be on the table when you talk about cutting spending. Can you envision cuts in cancer research?"
Schieffer was referring to an interview Cantor did on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, when host David Gregory wondered if "cancer research is on the table" in terms of spending cuts. Cantor did not specifically address such funding, but simply stated: "We've got to be very, very good and disciplined to make sure that we are cutting what needs to be cut and focused on growing this economy so America can maintain its competitiveness and we can see jobs grow in the private sector."
Responding to Schieffer's question, Schumer argued: "Well, you know, the proposal that the Republican Study Committee made focuses on only one part of the budget. And because they have to get all their reductions out of that one part, they do things that most Americans wouldn't want, such as cut cancer research. But, for instance, they leave the military totally out." During the Meet the Press interview, Gregory asked if there would be cuts in defense spending, to which Cantor replied: "Absolutely...no one can defend the expenditure of every dollar and cent over at the Pentagon. And we've got to be very serious to make sure that they're doing more with less as well."
Earlier in the broadcast, Schieffer asked Arizona Senator John McCain if Republican efforts to repeal costly ObamaCare legislation was "a waste of time."
Here is a portion of Schieffer's January 23 exchange with Schumer:
BOB SCHIEFFER: Alright. In his preview of the State of the Union message, that the White House released last night, kind of a video press release, here's one of the things that President Obama said. Take a listen.
BARACK OBAMA: We're also going to have to deal with our deficits and our debt in a responsible way. And we've got to reform government, so that it's leaner and smarter for 21st Century.
SCHIEFFER: You know, if I didn't know better and had my eyes closed I might have thought that was President Reagan talking. It sounded very much like a speech that a Republican would make. Are Democrats really going to be serious about this, Senator Schumer? And how is the Left in your party going to take this idea of this new focus on cutting spending?
CHUCK SCHUMER: Well, let me say this. First, we are serious and we'll continue to be. We passed last year, in our appropriations measures, something called McCaskill-Sessions, Claire McCaskill, Democrat, Jeff Sessions, Republican, that cut back on spending. We know that has to happen but it has to be done in a smart way. And another thing the President is going to talk about is not cutting back on investments that will help us grow in the future. Things like education and infrastructure and scientific research.
In fact, I think the President's message is going to be one of hope, of the future, and of growth. He is going to focus like a laser on the middle class and helping them grow their paychecks, if they have a job, growing jobs, growing the economy, both in the short term and the long term. And so, yes, we have to cut. And there's a lot of waste in the government and we will join with our colleagues and with the President to do it, but certain key investments we will keep. And the bottom line is this. The American people want an optimistic, future-oriented, pro-growth platform. This dour, sour, 'Everything is wrong, no one can do anything right,' that's not going to work. That's not what the American people want. So I think the President's speech is going to be well-received by Democrats in the Congress, in the country, but by all Americans more importantly.
SCHIEFFER: Eric Cantor said this morning, under hard questioning I should add, that yes indeed cancer research would also be on the table when you talk about cutting spending. Can you envision cuts in cancer research?
SCHUMER: Well, you know, the proposal that the Republican Study Committee made focuses on only one part of the budget. And because they have to get all their reductions out of that one part, they do things that most Americans wouldn't want, such as cut cancer research. But, for instance, they leave the military totally out. Now I'm for a strong military and I've always supported it. But everyone knows there's waste and inefficiency in the military budget. Defense Secretary Gates has proposed cutting $150 billion out of it. And if you want to be fair, if you want to be – convince people that you're really for cutting you have to cut the waste across the board. Waste in the military is no better than waste domestic programs. And it seems that it's a little political.
SCHIEFFER: Alright, where-
SCHUMER: You know, just focus on one area, areas that Republicans don't like. We should try to eliminate the waste and inefficiency across the board.
— Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.