Cutting to the Quick

By Kate Brannen / September 22, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Last night in an interview with 60 Minutes, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said government spending has gone "out of control" -- and that his administration would take steps to reduce it, which he said would include cuts in defense spending.

McCain: ... I think the major point here is that spending got out of control. How many Americans know that the size of government increased by 40 percent in the last seven years? We Republicans for six of the eight years presided over the greatest increase in government since the Great Society. Republicans came to power to change Washington. And Washington changed us.

Pelley: But how do you cut the budget?

McCain: Oh, easy. Look

Pelley: That much.

McCain: Look, if you were able to increase the budget and the size of government by 40 percent, don't you think you could cut some of it?

Pelley: What are you gonna cut?

McCain: I think we'll frankly, you can eliminate so many agencies of government that are outmoded. Obviously I would scrub defense spending. Obviously we would look at every institution of government. I would stop these protectionist tariffs. I would stop subsidizing sugar.

Pelley: Did I just hear you say you're gonna cut the defense budget?

McCain: I think there's areas in defense where we can save a lot of money in cost over runs.

McCain offered no specifics, though he has issued a budget plan that includes the following:

Balance the budget requires slowing outlay growth to 2.4 percent. The roughly $470 billion dollars (by 2013) in slower spending growth come from reduced deployments abroad ($150 billion; consistent with success in Iraq/Afghanistan that permits deployments to be cut by half -- hopefully more), slower discretionary spending in non-defense and Pentagon procurements ($160 billion; there are lots of procurements -- airborne laser, Globemaster, Future Combat System -- that should be ended and the entire Pentagon budget should be scrubbed). . . .

However, there's been some confusion on that FCS bit -- he has, in fact, criticized Sen. Obama for allegedly opposing the program.