Conservatives boo GOP congressman as summit attendees push for deeper federal spending cuts
February 26th, 2011
10:19 AM ET
12 years ago

Conservatives boo GOP congressman as summit attendees push for deeper federal spending cuts

Phoenix (CNN) - It's not often that a mostly friendly conservative audience, listening to a conservative congressman, screams, "Boo, boo! More, more!"

And yet, for a moment, the crowd gathered at the American Policy Summit's opening night on Friday did turn on Rep. Joe Barton as the Texas Republican explained his party's push for budget cuts in the House. The three-day summit is sponsored by the Tea Party Patriots, among other key groups in the movement.

Apparently acknowledging public debate over a possible government shutdown, Barton told the audience about the legislative action - called a continuing resolution - recently passed in the House that temporarily funds the government in lieu of an actual budget. The measure would fund the government for the rest of fiscal year 2011, which ends September 30, and cuts $61 billion from current spending levels.

"It had the largest spending cuts in the history of America," Barton tried to explain to the crowd. "I hear that. Somebody says, 'It wasn't enough.' Well it's a good start in the right direction."

In response, many in the crowd chanted, "Boo! Boo! More! More!"

The testiness was temporary. When the congressman talked about balancing the budget by also putting entitlement programs - like Medicaid and Medicare - "on the table," the crowd cheered.

Such reactions mirror ongoing sentiments from Tea Party activists as they push for deeper cuts than those proposed by GOP lawmakers to address government spending.

Various speakers at the event echoed familiar themes of conservative activists: eliminating the U.S. Department of Education, and allowing its work to be done more by the states; and regulatory reform.

But as with the debate over Medicaid and Medicare, ideas of cutting Social Security are among the most controversial. Many Democrats have vowed to keep the program going, perhaps with modest changes. Many conservatives have long argued that in order to keep Social Security solvent, it must be modified. One popular idea is to transform the program into a private savings account.

Yet others call for its outright elimination.

However, according to a recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, seven in 10 Americans say preventing cuts in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid education programs and veterans' benefits are more important than deficit reduction.

Yaron Brook, president of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, a conservative public policy center, also spoke to the Phoenix audience. He called Social Security a "morally corrupt scheme" that's causing "suffering" in the United States.

"Phasing out Social Security is not going to be easy. It's going to take a little bit of time," Brook said. "But we need to stand on principle."

Filed under: Joe Barton • Tea Party movement
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Barton, like most republicans, needs his head examined. He voted to give the wealthy their unnecessary tax cuts, voted for the Bush unfunded wars, voted to give big oil billions in tax breaks, and to pay for the insanity, he cuts programs that will benefit needy Americans.

    February 26, 2011 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  2. Dave

    Who the heck is Yaron Brook and why does he think he can speak for the whole country? Do these people live in the real world? Do they want to throw their fellow americans under the bus? The tax rate of America is the lowest it has been in years and still these idiots are screaming to the rafters that we need to cut taxes AND spending. What kind of morons are they? Did they even go to high school? Any college? It just does not work that way.

    We then elect congressman and women who don't have the courage to stand up to these idiots and say this is not going to work. Here is my question: Before we cut Medicare and Social Security have we cut every single pet project out there? Have we cut Yaron Brook's pet projects in his home town, county and state? Have we cut subsidies for all the wildlife projects, etc.?

    February 26, 2011 10:34 am at 10:34 am |