CNN's Anderson Cooper attempted to get some answers from Rep. Michele Bachmann about what cuts to the budget Republicans want to make to balance the budget and instead of getting a straight answer out of her, she accused the Obama administration of taking a $200 million a day trip to India. This is the kind of crap we're going to get to look forward to once Bachmann starts some of her "investigations" after Republicans take over the House.
Looks like this is the latest Fox/right wing meme of the day since Hannity was attacking the White House for this as well. Media Matters has more on where this attack came from, and surprise, surprise, Drudge was involved along with a bunch of the other right wing screechers out there.
Welcome to this wingnut along with her buddy Darrel Issa and what we get to look forward to from Republican committee hearings in the House America.
COOPER: Congresswoman Bachmann, congratulations on your -- on your big victory last night.
You have campaigned on -- on cutting the deficit, cutting spending, not raising taxes, like a lot of Republicans, a lot of Tea Party candidates. There haven't been a lot of specifics, though, about what programs you would want to cut to really get the kind of savings that we need.
Republican Paul Ryan has suggested sharp cuts in Medicare and Social Security. Are you willing to make cuts there?
BACHMANN: Well, I think we know that, just within a day or so, the president of the United States will be taking a trip over to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day. He's taking 2,000 people with him.
He will be renting out over 870 rooms in India. And these are five-star hotel rooms at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. This is the kind of over-the-top spending. It's a very small example, Anderson.
COOPER: But don't all presidents take overseas trips and stay in hotels where there's security?
BACHMANN: Not -- not -- not at this level. We have never seen this sort of an entourage going with the president before.
And I think this is an example of the massive overspending that we have seen, not only just in the last two years, really in the last four. That's what we saw at the ballot box last evening.
COOPER: But the -- excuse me -- the...
BACHMANN: The American people are asking us to take a look at this, and not have the sort of extravagant spending anymore.
COOPER: The White House is saying that idea that this is a $200 million, you know, boondoggle is just -- is completely overstated, that the -- that number, it's wildly inflated, those -- those numbers.
BACHMANN: And -- and that may be what the White House is stating. But, again, we have never seen a trip at this level before, of this level of excess.
COOPER: How -- how...
BACHMANN: And I think it's not a good signal to send to the American people, when the American people are, quite frankly, struggling right now with high job losses.
COOPER: But how -- but you know the president needs security overseas. You wouldn't begrudge...
COOPER: ... begrudge any president that. And, frankly, they...
BACHMANN: Of course not.
COOPER: No one -- no one really knows the cost, because, for security reasons, they don't disclose the cost. So, this idea that it's, you know, $200 million or whatever is simply made up.
BACHMANN: Well, these are the numbers that have been coming out in the press. And, of course, those are the numbers that I have to...
COOPER: Do you believe what you read in the press?
BACHMANN: ... the numbers that are being -- well, should I listen -- well, should I believe what you say, Anderson? That's really the question.
COOPER: Well, I'm not reporting this -- this $200 million figure.
I guess I'm just -- it just seems odd -- I mean, under President Bush, did you ever talk about extravagant trips overseas, that there were too many people traveling with the president overseas?
BACHMANN: The issue here is really government excess and government government -- government excess and spending.
If it's that difficult and that expensive, maybe we should use videoconferencing for these meetings to have meetings between our two government leaders, or invite...
COOPER: So, you don't want the president traveling overseas?
BACHMANN: ... or inviting them to come to the United States.
Not at all.
What I'm suggesting is that we need to rein in the spending at all levels. And we need to take a look at all of the decisions that are being made.
COOPER: In terms, though, of actually cutting the deficit and, you know, cutting spending, you're going to have to make very specific -- you're going to have to come up with some specifics. BACHMANN: Where we need to begin, quite frankly, is with the general budget.
And we saw a huge expansion. President Obama increased spending at the federal level almost 25 percent. That's an amazing expansion by the government.
COOPER: OK. So you're not willing to say whether you would cut Medicare or -- or Social Security? You're not willing to say whether you would entertain that?
BACHMANN: Well, what -- what we need -- what we need to do is reform the system, because, this year, we're spending more on Social Security than what we're taking in, six years ahead of the projects on when that would occur.
So, we -- for the sake of the most vulnerable people in this country, we have to reform Social Security, so it's solvent.
COOPER: So, you are willing to look at cuts in Medicare, cuts in Social Security?
BACHMANN: Well, for cuts, we need to begin with the general budget. We need to reform Social Security, so that it can stand on his own -- on its own, and so that it can stand on its own with Medicare.
We -- we can't be about scaring senior citizens right now. What we need to do is lay out the facts on the table and make sure that those who are truly in need, who are vulnerable are taken care of.
COOPER: But extending the Bush tax cuts will mean, in order to offset the costs of extending the Bush tax cuts, you have to come up with $700 billion just in spending cuts alone just to offset that cost.
If you acknowledge that that is true, I mean, what are three things you would cut immediately to help offset those costs?
BACHMANN: Well, it's always considered a cost when people are allowed to keep their own money. I don't think that it's a cost when people get to keep their own money.
Right now, the current tax policy is -- in my mind, it's actually too high, the taxes right now. If we don't extend these tax cuts, for instance, in my district in Minnesota, we will see $1.6 billion -- $1.2 billion taken out of the pockets of my constituents and taken out of my local community, where it will be spent.
Instead, 1.2 additional dollars will be sent to Washington, D.C., sucked into that hole.
COOPER: Right. But, nationwide, that's still -- but, nationwide, that's still accounts for $700 billion in income that the U.S. government's not going to be getting that they're going to have to either cut spending, get from somewhere else or cut spending on. I assume you want it to be from cutting spending. Can you tell me just three things you would do to make up for $700 billion in lost revenue for the government?
BACHMANN: I think we need to cut the spending back to the 2000, 2008 levels.
COOPER: But a specific program, three specific programs.
BACHMANN: Well, and I -- and I'm -- and I'm trying to answer that.
I think we need to look at eligibility levels. Eligibility levels may be too high. We may need to cut them down by a percentage or two. We can solve this problem. We can cut back on the spending.
COOPER: Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.
Now, after the interview, we did some checking on -- on the claim that President Obama's trip to India is costing $200 million a day, which seemed like a lot when she brought it up. Congresswoman Bachmann said it's in news report. It may be on the Internet. That doesn't actually make it true, though.
It turns out the source of this unsubstantiated claim is not from Politico. It's from an Indian news report. And the original report is actually from an anonymous Indian source, allegedly an Indian provincial official. How he would know how much President Obama's trip is costing, I'm not sure.
After the interview, we went back, asked the White House for further details. They said -- quote -- "The numbers reported in this article have no basis to reality. Due to security concerns, we're unable to outline details associated with security procedures and costs, but it's safe to say these numbers are wildly inflated."
As for how inflated, we can get some idea from Bill Clinton's similar Asian trip as president, which is widely considered the most expensive ever. The estimated bottom line for that trip, $50 million, and not per day, but for the entire trip.