Schieffer Foresees Icy Reception to Freeze

(AP)
In his State of the Union address tomorrow President Barack Obama is expected to ask for — domestic agencies' budgets which are approved by Congress.

It's a statement of fiscal sobriety (although it does not cover entitlement programs and defense, which make up the bulk of federal outlays), and a response to voters concerned about the economy.

When asked about the presidential response, CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer said, "It's almost like somebody goes to the doctor for a hearing test, and the president is saying, 'Look, I hear you, I hear you. My hearing is okay!'

"I think what you're going to see this State of the Union message geared to is that theme: the President, the White House, sort of in the Bill Clinton way, shares the pain of those out there that are worried about deficits."

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What Schieffer found interesting about the freeze on all programs except the entitlement programs (Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security), as well as defense, is "how little of the federal budget it covers," Schieffer told "Early Show" anchor Maggie Rodriguez.

According to The New York Times this morning, "The payoff in budget savings would be small relative to the deficit. The estimated $250 billion in savings over 10 years would be less than 3% of the roughly $9 trillion in new debt that will accrue over the next 10 years."

"That shows you just how massive these sums are that we're talking about," said Schieffer.

"I think it's probably good politics for the president to announce this, that he's going to put this freeze in. Whether he can get it passed in an election year, when all of these people that are running for re-election in the Congress are out there with their political survival at stake, I think is another matter. He may get a freeze in some of these programs, I think it's going to be very difficult for him to get a freeze in all of them that he's talking about.

"Everybody wants to cut the deficit, everybody wants to cut spending. They don't want to cut the spending of their pet programs. And that's where the rubber will hit the road on all this."

"But if they don't, then won't Democrats pay for that in the midterm election?" asked Rodriguez.

"Well, they may or they may not. If they don't get those programs that the folks back in the home district are worried about and the ones they want, they may take it out on the Congressman. They may penalize them for cutting spending rather than trying to save money."

  • David Morgan

    David Morgan is a senior editor at CBSNews.com and cbssundaymorning.com.

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