Rep-Elect Kelly Has No Idea What Spending Cuts He Wants

January 03, 2011 2:12 pm ET — Alan Pyke

With a massive freshman class set to join their House caucus tomorrow, Republicans need a strategy to get inexperienced lawmakers lined up behind clear policy goals. If incoming Pennsylvania Republican Mike Kelly's most recent TV appearances are any indication, though, the new majority is more interested in campaigning than governing.

Fox News hosted Kelly this morning to talk about his contentious appearance Sunday on CBS's Face the Nation, where Democrats Anthony Weiner (NY) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL) implored the congressman-elect to stop demonizing Washington and acknowledge that he now shares responsibility for getting things done. Kelly yucked it up with host Bill Hemmer about the Sunday appearance and his Notre Dame football career, with this text banner at the bottom of the screen: "CONGRESSMAN-ELECT GETS FIRST TASTE OF WASHINGTON CLASH."

But even Hemmer eventually asked for "concrete proposals" to reduce the national debt. Kelly parried the questions with stories about his business career and inept metaphors about credit cards, mentioned entitlement programs without saying how he'd modify them, and eventually conceded that he doesn't know quite what to do about it. "Specifically, the process is specific. Specific cuts? I can't tell you right now," Kelly said.

KELLY: Listen, you know where I come from, I'm an automobile dealer and I'm pretty much just like, Mr. Everybody. The only difference between me and all the folks that are back here in my district is I was on the ballot and got elected. So, I, y'know, my perspective is a lot different. [...] If we don't make serious cuts and I'm not talking about penny ante stuff, I'm talking about making serious cuts to spending....

HEMMER: But, when you talk about really cutting sending, not the penny ante stuff that you just referred to, what do you chop to make a difference?

KELLY: Well, y'know, it all comes down, listen, and I'm not the first one to say this, and I know I'm preachin' to the choir, it's the entitlement programs that are killing us and we've got to take a look at those and why don't we go back to an original design? [...] Specifically, the process is specific. Specific cuts, I can't tell you right now, but I can tell you this, we gotta look at everything and we gotta make some dramatic decisions and some decisions that quite frankly take a very strong stomach and a very strong back. You've got to have a strong stomach to get through this stuff. 

Even with a friendly interviewer like Hemmer this morning, Kelly couldn't come up with a single specific move he'd make to balance the budget. Maybe he can regale our creditors with stories about running a car dealership until they get bored and forgive a few trillion dollars of US debt.

Watch the full interview: