November 3rd, 2010
11:59 PM ET

Bachmann sounds off on spending, won't identify specific cuts

Martina Stewart
AC360° Digital Producer

(CNN) – Fresh off a victory Tuesday in her hotly contested and closely watched re-election bid, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota, refused to identify specific cuts to the federal budget while, at the same time, criticizing what she called “over-the-top” spending for an upcoming presidential trip.

When asked in an interview that aired Wednesday on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360° whether she would support cuts to Social Security and Medicare, Bachmann slammed the White House for the costs of President Obama’s forthcoming trip to India.

The Minnesota Republican called the trip’s costs “over-the-top.”

She added, “We have never seen this sort of an entourage going with the president before. And I think this is an example the massive overspending that we’ve seen – not only just in the last 2 years, really in the last four.”

Pressed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper about whether she would support cuts to Social Security and Medicare proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, Bachmann said those entitlement programs need to be given a closer look.

“What we need to do is reform the system,” Bachmann told Cooper, before pointing out the Social Security program’s dire financial outlook in the short- and the long term.

She added, “For the sake of the most vulnerable people in the country, we have to reform Social Security so it’s solvent."

Later in the interview, in an apparent reference to Social Security and Medicare, Bachmann told Cooper that she would entertain changing the “eligibility levels.”

“We need to look at eligibility levels. Eligibility levels may be too high. We may need to cut them down by a percentage [point] or two,” Bachmann said.

Asked for comment about Bachmann’s criticism of the trip, the White House said in a written statement that the figures cited by the Republican lawmaker “have no basis in reality.”

White House spokesperson Amy Brundage added, “Due to security concerns, we are unable to outline details associated with security procedures and costs, but it’s safe to say these numbers are wildly inflated.”

Bachmann’s comments come on the same day she formally announced her bid to join the House Republican leadership and become the chair of the House Republican Conference in the next Congress. She already has at least one rival for job. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, is also seeking the number four spot in the GOP’s House leadership. Hensarling has already been endorsed by two powerful House Republican leaders.

Filed under: Martina Stewart • Raw Politics
soundoff (434 Responses)
  1. Clif

    Bachmann does say that we need to cut spending to the 2000-2008 levels. Unfortunately this is not that specific. However as she noted government spending in the last four years has grown significantly. In fact it has grown by about 36%. It would be an overstatement to say she would want to cut the budget by that much because the 36% includes both discretionary and non-discretionary spending, and she wants to cut back at least with discretionary spending.

    As far as the entitlement programs (Social Security and Medicare), if you say you want "cuts" in those programs it is political suicide. Bachmann saying she supports reform for these programs would most likely mean making cuts to future beneficiaries and not to those receiving benefits today.

    Another way to balance the budget is to limit spending growth. Clinton was great because his budgets only increased by about 3%/year which is much lower than the average 7%/year increase in the budget since Eisenhower. Government spending has doubled in the last 10 years, as it has for the last 60 years. That means government spending has been growing at exponential rates. We need to be cautious of this.

    November 4, 2010 at 3:55 am |
  2. Jayson

    I saw this earlier and it always amazes me how no one can seem to get a straight answer out of these kinds of people. I think mainly because when it comes to cutting the budget, it's not nearly as simple as some think it is. It's like having a really good idea but then realizing the reality of the idea isn't what you thought it was.

    As for her assersion that this trip to India was going to cost 200 million. Why do some people have to make up random numbers or simply cite sources that have no basis in reality. So she is basically saying if the president didn't spend so much money to travel we would be out of debt?

    Give me a break, even if they were spending 200 million a day on these trips that wouldn't account for even a full percentage of the Federal budget.

    November 4, 2010 at 3:54 am |
  3. Garrett

    Republicans just are relentless at exaggerating and berating the public with misinformation. Its appalling. Thanks Mr. Cooper for the excellent report.

    November 4, 2010 at 3:51 am |
  4. Donnie

    Republicans created virtually the whole national debt and ran the economy into the ground, and, two years later, they successfully blamed it on Democrats. Sad.

    November 4, 2010 at 3:45 am |
  5. Steve

    Hey Anderson, the first cut will come from no longer needing speaker pelosi's 737 jet to carry her around everywhere. Happy now?

    November 4, 2010 at 3:40 am |
  6. Davi

    cut the spending! cut the spending! stop the government! let the corporations govern! cut tax for the millionaire. let the poor get sick! obamacare is evil! free market! free market! capitalism rules!

    November 4, 2010 at 3:36 am |
  7. Travis in Canada

    In many ways, I find Michelle Bachmann emblematic of the cancer attacking the United States of America. She criticizes and criticizes and makes rather silly comments (or non-comments, to be more specific) but is unable to offer ANY solutions? Any clown or witch can complain, but true leaders stand up and offer solutions, then work with others to implement said solutions. How this quack gets elected is a rather sad denouement on the state of American politics. If I hear "we need to cut spending" or "we need to create jobs" one more time, I am going to lose my mind! Like, DUH, we need to stimulate the economy and accentuate all that that embodies. What we really need, as a means to an end, is the cessation of empty platitudes. Time to 'man up', Michelle. Ugh .... Travis in Canada

    November 4, 2010 at 3:30 am |
  8. jwiles

    I wonder what she would say about Bush's 5-nation sweep of Africa in late 2008? That was a pretty expensive trip too. USAF had to fly fuel in because there was no secure fuel storage in some of the nations they visited.

    November 4, 2010 at 3:29 am |
  9. Daniel

    Of course she refused to name a cut, the Republicans have no plan nor do they have any specifics, they just shout "we need to cut spending and cut taxes" and people flock to them. I mean really, the "Pledge to America"? That alone would keep me from voting for any of them, as if they think I'm some High School Dropout not old enough to remember the "Contract with America" gimmic, what a joke the party of Eisenhower has become....

    November 4, 2010 at 3:29 am |
  10. Joseph D

    $200,000,000 for Obama's trip to India?

    So what. Michele will spend at least one million on herself and fashions. Elite people like the Obama's need this type of spending. Let the rest of us eat cake.

    November 4, 2010 at 3:22 am |
  11. Roland

    Id like to give special thanks to CNN for allowing the Tea Party to hijack US media so that so many voters would go to the polls without knowing the many things Obama did for the country over the last 2 years. It worked.

    November 4, 2010 at 3:12 am |
  12. John Schafer


    I have often watched your reporting with great respect, but I was deeply disappointed with your "Gotcha" kind of reporting in your Bachman interview. It was apparent from the start of the interview that you had no intentention of showing any kind of cordial respect toward Bachman. Your were clearly out to smear her rather than conduct the kind of Bipartisan conversation that is so desparately needed in America right now. You can't hide behind the "just keeping them honest" motto in this case. I think both Republicans and Democrats want to make an effort to work together, but the answers will unfold slowly over time with respectful conversation from both sides. With your role in the media, you have a unique opportunity to help America heal in these difficult times. Do you really believe that you encouraged the possibility of productive future interviews with Bachman with this interview. If you had been willing to really listen to Bachman in this interview and set the stage for productive future interviews, you might have actually accomplished something in this interview. Try attacking one issue at a time in a series of interviews, be respectful and give people like Bachman a reasonable chance to respond to the many questions you want answered.

    John Schafer

    November 4, 2010 at 3:07 am |
  13. marcus ji

    seriously, do you think you will even get specific spending cuts from Republicans within two years?

    November 4, 2010 at 3:07 am |
  14. Hans

    Hey Anderson,

    Glad to see your on the case for Mrs. Bachmann. Also, glad that you were on the case when Speaker Pelosi said "We have to pass it to...to...find out what's in the...the health care bill."

    Excellent, unbiased reporting! No wonder your station was overwhelmingly chosen as the Election Night channel of choice...


    November 4, 2010 at 2:47 am |
  15. James

    Entitlements? Since the GOP is so hell bent on repealing the health care bill why don't they repeal their own health care "entitlement" while their at it. They make good money and can afford to purchase insurance for themselves from the private multi million dollar industry they work so hard to protect. They might even get a discount, after all this so called government take over of healthcare is going to force us all onto their balance sheets for fear of a fine.

    While we're cutting all these entitlements for citizens lets take a hard look at all the entitlements these politicians enjoy. I'm sure we could find plenty of money there to help balance the budget.

    November 4, 2010 at 2:44 am |
  16. Zach

    going to india is a "massive spending?"
    lets see... sending a president to a different country or a couple hundred thousand troops... who spent more, oh I wonder.

    November 4, 2010 at 2:43 am |
  17. william ford

    This president has too many ways to waste money. He talks about the repubs driving the economy in the ditch when he himself is pretty much standing in the ditch with a shovel digging it deeper which is going to make it hard to get out of the hole we are already in.

    November 4, 2010 at 2:40 am |
  18. Edie Ter Wisscha

    Awesome job Anderson. I live in Bachmann's district and had voted for Taryl Clark I am saddened that Bachmann won again and I love you asking her the real questions. She could not even answer any of them, she just made bogus statements. Sooo happy you researched her bogus statements then reported how wrong she was!! Have her on again, she is fun to listen to because she always digs herself into big holes. You did a great job helping her dig this one!

    November 4, 2010 at 2:37 am |
  19. Thasic

    All politicians spend too much money on these junkets, our money. It's Republicrats and Democins both. No one has the corner on wasting tax payer money.

    November 4, 2010 at 2:36 am |
  20. Carol

    Does Anderson Cooper realize how condenscending he was to Michelle Bachman? His questions were "grilling" almost like "when did you quit beating your kids?" You saw the inane spending in the Stimulous Bill Partiers relate to Michelle and Sarah Palin and take such grilling "personally". The average Tea Partier is 61 yrs. old with 4 years of college or more. Now that this election proves you have a vast population that is out here in America that would/could be your viewers don't you think it is time to quit treating us like "morons". Having been invited to join Mensa, myself, I find you "smug" in your treatment of people you find less "elite" than yourself..and mostly because they are Republicans.

    November 4, 2010 at 2:34 am |
  21. Rob Will

    Because congress person are not on social security they want to change it they want to cut spending for people who put their money in this program with the promise that they will be taken care of with the program. we could have put all that money over 40 years in a savings program and accumulated a nice sum. Congress throws away billions of dollars every quarter and gives to foreign governments billions of dollars every year but don't want to take care of the old folks who have supported this country for many many decades. Let's put all of congress on Social Security and see how quickly it will then be improved

    November 4, 2010 at 2:31 am |
  22. Talar

    So it's ok to give Wall Street hundreds of billions and unlimited budgets for 2 useless wars but they want to go after the few breadcrumbs – medicare and social security – the elderly rely on to make ends meet? How can she call them entitlements unless she doesn't pay taxes and is therfore clueless.

    November 4, 2010 at 2:27 am |
  23. Stu Steinberg

    Why do you and MSNBC give this insane woman air time? Last night on MSNBC, Lawrence O'Donnell asked this very question. Why does she get air time when she never answers direct questions, lies through her teeth and is just generally a complete moron? She talked about the economy and people being out of work, then held her re-election celebration in another district. Her statement to Chris Matthews about "un-American" members of Congress (read, "Democrats")who should be investigated hearkens back to the McCarthy era. It is Michelle Bachman, and the rest of this ilk, who are un-American. I fought for my country in Vietnam and just returned from Afghanistan as an advisor. I did not do these things to defend the freedoms of this country so that scum like this could trash the President–the Commander-in-Chief–when we are in the middle of two wars. As far as I am concerned, she, and the rest of the radical right are traitors and should be treated as such.

    November 4, 2010 at 2:25 am |
  24. Eduardo Gonzalez San Diego, CA

    She is a mchine repeating what she is told to say but does not have an idea what to do step by step

    November 4, 2010 at 2:24 am |
  25. kevs

    Can't she just go away? Jeezus! What is wrong with her district? She is such an embarrassment to Minnesota and the our country.

    November 4, 2010 at 2:21 am |
  26. michael gregory

    Bachman is like so many on the extreme right, full of outrage but unable to articulate where she would cut spending. Not the military, social security or medicare which makes her outrage an hollow act for all to see.

    November 4, 2010 at 2:20 am |
  27. Debbie

    Blah, Blah, Blah, she needs to answer a few questions herself!

    November 4, 2010 at 2:14 am |
  28. lucy garcia

    I am a democrat that thinks that we have the right to have a detailed expense report on every trip a president takes overseas, especially during these times. It seams that the Obamas have spent more time traveling, than time taking care of problems and important issues. I would like to know how much aide he will be giving indonesia, since he loves giving away our money, without our blessing. I think this trip is suspicious, and I hope his actions will be looked at closely.

    November 4, 2010 at 2:13 am |
  29. Bill

    Ms. Bachmann has wasted little time slipping back into old political practices. If she not part of the solution with meaningful issues then she can be added to the growing list of people who don't get it.If she wants to focus on political travel expenses than we should eliminate all political travel expenses for all politicians. Is that her point. If not it should be. I can wrap my arms around that change.

    November 4, 2010 at 2:12 am |
  30. Joe

    Why should she or others in the GOP give any specifics now? The American people were stupid enough to sign a blank check and elect these yokels; so now, we'll all have to suffer the consequences.

    November 4, 2010 at 2:09 am |
  31. james

    As an embarrassed Minnesotan, I apologize to the world for the comments of this "over the top" politician who has become so rhetorically challenged that she no longer knows how to speak or recognize the truth. Ms. Bachmann has proven that she has ambitions far beyond our humble state, and in fact has done nothing at all for our state since joining the exclusive club in Washington. Ms. Bachmann is an example of a woman who has grown interested in the power and prestige of political victory, but has no interest whatsoever in actually serving the people who elected her. I regretfully conclude that she is another example of the behavior that has motivated and angered the Tea Party nationwide. I find it ironic that she identifies herself with the Tea Party movement, as I frankly think she represents all that the Tea Party hopes to eliminate from our government.

    November 4, 2010 at 2:04 am |
  32. Michael

    Well, I'm sure the cost of Obama's trip is a lot less then all the back and forth GW Bush did to his ranch during his eight years. Not to mention the cost of the war on tax payers and the lives of young people.

    November 4, 2010 at 2:03 am |
  33. pat

    Where was Michelle Bachmann when we spent trillions of dollars on the war?
    India is one the fastest growing economy and it is the right thing to do for Obama.
    I wish the republicans stop whining when they cannot get their own house in order.

    November 4, 2010 at 1:57 am |
  34. danielle

    I seen this while it was on how in the world does she know how much his trip cost? I am with you anderson and then she said I read it in the media. An do she believe everything she reads in the media lol.

    November 4, 2010 at 1:57 am |
  35. Maggie

    Already. Hatin' on the poorest parts of society for budget costs. So glad she's elected. Not.

    November 4, 2010 at 1:51 am |
  36. Vanessa Williams

    First George Bush, then Sarah Palin, and now Michelle Bauchman–Republicans obviously do not need to be articulate, specific, or well informed. To say that racism is running rampant in this country is a huge understatement. Oh, and if one more of them decide to speak for ME–stating their view is what the country wants, I'm going to scream!!!! Totally sickening! C'mon lady, answer just one question already–oh that's right, you can't and obviously don't need to. REPUBLICAN IGNORANCE EQUALS SUCCESS? HUH?!

    November 4, 2010 at 1:42 am |
  37. Billy

    Hey Anderson you just got your Dem. butt kicked....You thought you could ask and interrupt her and she was so much smarter then you, it just made me feel great. Keep up your Dem. BS we all here in America love it. HAHA

    November 4, 2010 at 1:39 am |
  38. marta

    Thank you for exposing that untruth by Michelle Bachman about President Obama's trip to India. It is being widely spread around the internet.
    I don't understand the need to continuely denigrate the President and Michelle Obama about trips they take to other countries. In the past, our Presidents trips have been lauded as representatives of our country.
    Please keep these politicians feet to the fire about what they say. Too many times they are allowed to make up their own facts to promote their agenda on news shows and no one counters them. Thank you for reporting on this.

    November 4, 2010 at 1:37 am |
  39. Steph

    This was an interesting exchange, Anderson kept asking MS. Bachmann to identify just three areas that she would cut spending, since that was what she ran for reelection on and all she did was dance around the question over and over. Obviously she doesn't want to say where she would cut spending because she feels that it may not go over too well with many of the people who voted her into office. It is amazing to me that the GOP/Tea Party candidates managed to get a voting block of people who are middle and lower income to vote for policy that benefits only those in the wealthiest sector of people in the country.

    November 4, 2010 at 1:35 am |
  40. Steve in Sunset

    By my calculations, with the federal budget increasing by the same amount as it already has in the last two years, it will cost us 2.7 billion a day to have him here, making 200,000,000 a day quite a bargain if we can get him to stay in India for the next two years.

    It will cost us only 240,000,000,000 to keep him there for the next two years, but may very easily cost us 2,000,000,000,000 to keep him here.

    November 4, 2010 at 1:33 am |
  41. M Findley

    The reason why Ms. Bachmann couldn't give you a reason and just the talk is because she has an ear peace in the whole time. She waited for every question and gave it to the t. On what the T wants. When was the last time you could see a polition with an ear peace with out a reason. I LOVE HDTV

    Ps if i spelled something wrong sorry fix it

    November 4, 2010 at 1:32 am |
  42. Kelli Nelson

    Michelle Bachmann is more concerned with the President taking an overseas trip than with her future intentions {of representing Minnesota.She couldn't even the question or name 3 programs that would cut costs for the 700 million debt. Spending cuts specifics? Wow! Were you saying this when former President Bush was spending revenue unnecessarily...which caused us to go in the recession in the first place. 200 million dollars a day? Be serious. A source from India? Priorities first Bachmann

    November 4, 2010 at 1:31 am |
  43. David Conner


    Hard corps...I enjoyed you interview with Bachmann. Pretty sure she's doing an after action review to see what she could have done better. She and her staff may not sleep for a while trying to figure that one out. Anyway...good press...composure...2nd Marines, always say, "Keep Moving".

    Semper Fidelis,

    Dave Conner in Minnesota

    November 4, 2010 at 1:30 am |
  44. Joey Williams

    I just finished watching Congress Woman Bachmann's interview, and I have to say that I was not impressed. You asked her very direcet questions that she would not answer, and did what seams to be the popular political manuever, which is if you don't have an idea or plan, switch the focus on what someone else did. Is there a politician that will tell us what they think needs to be done instead of telling us what someone else did wrong?

    November 4, 2010 at 1:29 am |
  45. Matt

    Michelle bachmann is a trash talker and way far from the reality

    November 4, 2010 at 1:20 am |
  46. Nunya

    Just another example of the garden variety complete ignorance shown by people in this country when it comes to economic matters. Obama could never spend another dime traveling anywhere outside the White House and it wouldn't make one bit of difference in the financial status of the country. The amount spent for every trip he's made is nothing compared to the total expenditures.

    Just like the continual harping on earmarks. You could cut out every last one of the earmarks and the budget still wouldn't be balanced, so you can't just claim that is what you'll do to set things straight.

    November 4, 2010 at 1:10 am |
  47. chris stathes

    Social security would be immensly helped if the disability portion of the program were deeply cut by eliminating those in the program with disabilities such as drug addiction or alcholism. I actually know someone who recieves money for anger management issues. She uses the money to buy crack.

    November 4, 2010 at 1:06 am |
  48. Dean Estling

    Please do your homework and look at how Social Security has been abused by both parties.

    November 4, 2010 at 12:59 am |
  49. L.D. Comes

    i can not believe the cost of obamas up comming trip to inda.ive voted democrat for the last 25 years. now in out of work pres is spendin more and more money everyday. i will be voteing republican in 2012, i think i the country is going down the tubes and he has not even come close to doing the job we elected him to do!

    November 4, 2010 at 12:45 am |
  50. Jason M

    THIS is your Republican platform, America. A "balanced budget" that covers most of a $700B deficit from apparently nowhere (to preserve the W. Bush tax cuts), and a prominent figure in the party who A) Can't answer a question in a straightforward manner to save her life, and B) will OPEN a conversation with a blind attack on the President that has zero basis in fact. Day one of the new Congress = back to square one...

    November 4, 2010 at 12:44 am |
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