WASHINGTON – President Obama should freeze all non-mandatory spending, Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., said Friday.
In Obamas first State of the Union address next week, Bayh said in an interview with Bloomberg Television, he should announce hes drawing a line in the sand and will veto any legislation that raises spending.
Non-mandatory spending, also called the discretionary budget, pays for national defense, education programs, transportation projects, science, international affairs and agriculture.
Mandatory spending, which makes up two-thirds of the federal budget, pays for Social Security, Medicare, interest on the national debt and other expenses that Congress and the president cannot change.
Bayh said he thinks theres a fighting chance Obama will use the address to Congress on Wednesday night to call for the spending freeze and back it up with a veto threat.
We can do something right here, right now, starting next week, he said.
Bayh has advocated a commission that would develop ways to reduce spending, but he said the advantage of a White House commitment to a spending freeze is that it would be immediate.
He said the creation of a commission – which would require Congress to vote on the proposals in toto without amending them – is not likely to be adopted by Congress, however, for two reasons.
No. 1, Bayh said, some of the big spenders in my own party or people who care about their committee jurisdiction arent going to go for it.
And those on the right in the Republican Party have figured out, you know what, allowing the Democrats to be more fiscally responsible right now may not be in their political interests, so theyre – Mitch McConnell and some of his group are going to oppose it, he said, referring to the Republican Senate leader.
Bayh said when Congress doesnt create the commission, Obama will probably establish one through an executive order, which is not as good, but at least theres a step in the right direction.
Bayh said the election this week in Massachusetts, where a Republican was selected to fill a Senate seat held by Democrats for more than 50 years, was decided in part because voters were concerned about rising deficits, the fiscal issue, and it feeds into this animosity toward Washington because on a personal level people say, well, wait a minute. Ive got to balance the family checkbook. Im making do with a little less now. Why cant the government do the same thing?
Several analysts and Republicans have said that Bayh, who is running for re-election, is not necessarily the shoo-in he has been in past elections. Asked about that, Bayh said all incumbents are more vulnerable this year, and probably more for Democrats than Republicans.
But Bayh denied that Hoosiers rate his job performance lower than in past years.
The reports of my poll numbers having declined are not accurate, he said. I can tell you that from direct knowledge.
And the final thing Id say is Scott Brown, the guy up in Massachusetts whos the hero of the Tea Party movement (and the newly elected GOP senator), in one of the debates he said I want to go to Washington, D.C., and be an independent voice from Massachusetts, a lot like Evan Bayh.