Video: Dem Rep ends up with egg on his face in Bernanke hearing

posted at 10:55 am on June 11, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

The first thing law schools teach litigators is to not ask questions without knowing the answer. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) never went to law school — and it shows in this exchange from Wednesday between himself and Ben Bernanke, the Fed chair, who was testifying on Capitol Hill. Connolly wanted to slap at his Republican colleagues who want spending cuts to bring the budget into balance by getting Bernanke to say that there isn’t enough money in the budget to cut, and that revenue has to be increased to end deficits. Unfortunately, as Liberty Central notes, Connolly got broadsided by Bernanke, who responded that “of course!” the budget could get cut — if Congress would just do it:

CONNOLLY: I’m telling you, they don’t have an open mind. They have publicly expressed that they do not favor — you know, they’re all for deficit reduction as long as anything having to do with revenue is off the table. Can we get to serious deficit reduction — change that trajectory you talked about — if we eliminate half of the ledger sheet?

BERNANKE: Well, theoretically you could if you cut enough, but it would be very difficult to do that.

CONNOLLY: Is there enough spending to be cut?

BERNANKE: Of course! I mean … [laughs]

CONNOLLY: National defense, homeland security?

BERNANKE: That’s your judgment, that’s the Congress’ judgment. That’s not my judgment.

CONNOLLY: Ah. Um … it must be nice to be an economist.

The entire premise of his question is absurd. The budget for FY2010 exceeds $3.8 trillion, which means that we don’t have to eliminate “half the ledger sheet” in order to close a $1.3 trillion deficit.  We only need to eliminate a third of the ledger sheet.  That $3.8 trillion, by the way, is $1.1 trillion more than the last budget from a Republican Congress, FY2007.  If we returned to the FY2007 budget, we’d be almost all of the way there just by eliminating all of the spending increases inserted after Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid took charge of the budgeting process.

The real story of the deficit is that the budget has grown by almost double in the space of 10 years, from $2 trillion in FY2000 to almost $4 trillion today despite inflation being practically nonexistent the entire time.  We’re not in deficits because the American taxpayer doesn’t shove enough money into Washington’s Leviathan maw; we’re in deficit because Washington can’t stop spending more and more money.  Gerry Connolly is a poster boy for that problem.

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Isn’t it interesting that Copperheads like Connelly and hawksruleva want to cut defense which is Constitutionally mandated as opposed to entitlements which are not.

SDN on June 11, 2010 at 1:05 PM

it must be nice to be an economist.

What I took away from this, other than the obvious snark, was the “pass the buck” attitude under the surface. This guy is part of the government body that DECIDES HOW TO SPEND MONEY, and he’s expecting someone else (Bernanke) to tell him how to do it, or even do it for him. This way, if it turns to crap, he can throw his hands up and say, “It wasn’t me!”

CurtZHP on June 11, 2010 at 1:06 PM

But you just don’t understand….

…..Obamacare is gonna SAVE us money!

(yeah, right)

olesparkie on June 11, 2010 at 1:35 PM

Rep. Connolly’s (D-VA) 2010 salary as a rank-and-file member of Congress is $174,000 of your tax dollars plus he gets a generous benefits package.

Contact everybody you know in Rep. Connolly’s district in Virginia and tell them to VOTE HIM OUT OF OFFICE.

wren on June 11, 2010 at 2:10 PM

If Congress can’t figure out how to manage spending, then it’s time to take that responsibility away from Congress, and either give back to the people, or their representatives with more fiscal discipline.

LarryD on June 11, 2010 at 3:34 PM

What a hilarious exchange. Connolly simply assumes that the existing spending level is a force of nature that cannot be reversed, like an earthquake, sunshine or rainfall.

Sorry, Gerry, but you pathetic, grasping statists have to approve every nickel of what is spent. If you approve half of what current outlays are, that’s all that gets spent. Period. Every bit of this is your fault, idiot.

Jeffersonian on June 11, 2010 at 5:03 PM

The three political parties of the US of A as seen in Congress:

Bags of hammers
Boxes of rocks
Loose screws

Not a chainsaw to be seen in the bunch.

ajacksonian on June 11, 2010 at 7:19 PM

Breneke’s position must be re-examined. For a U.S.fiscal expert to consider dramatic cuts in DOD and DHS, requires an examination of his fitness to hold the position he holds.

Demanding, such actions indicate he is not aligned with the Constitution.

MSGTAS on June 12, 2010 at 10:53 AM

The ignorance of this fool is astounding. Anybody who thinks that the budget is beyond the control of Congress should be disqualified from “serving” there.

There are no morally legitimate entitlements. Everything we have in life is through the grace of God. Once we start to imagine that anything is ours by right, we cut ourselves off from the source of all good things.

Oh, November, come soon!

flataffect on June 12, 2010 at 9:58 PM