GOP Town Hall offers some surprising candor

GOP Town Hall
Participants in CBS News' Town Hall meeting for prominent Republican politicians, designed to be a response to President Obama's earlier Town Hall on CBS News.
CBS News

There were some surprising views, and some not so surprising views on display Monday when four prominent Republican politicians participated in a CBS News Town Hall meeting in Washington D.C. on Monday.

CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer, who also anchors "Face the Nation," was one of the moderators, and he says the meeting was set up to get the Republican side of things following President Obama's earlier Town Hall on the network.

South Carolina's Governor Nikki Haley, Florida Congressman Alan West, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, architect of the House budget plan, and Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn all pretty much stuck to the Republican line: Low taxes and cutting the deficit will eventually lead to economic growth that will create jobs.

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Ryan said what's been tried so far just hasn't worked.

"Remember what stimulus was supposed to do - it was supposed to keep unemployment from going above 8 percent. We're at 9.1 (percent,)" Ryan said.

However, it was Coburn who may have won the prize for candor.

"I'm convinced Washington is...its main focus is short-term political expediency. And the reason our country's at risk is because we think short term and about the next election, rather than thinking about the future of our country. You know, the reason I'll stand up as a conservative Republican, one of the biggest deficit hawks in Congress and say, 'I'll negotiate on taxes.' (It's) because our country's in trouble," Coburn said.

That's not the first time we've heard someone offer that analysis, but it may be the first time a member of congress has been willing to admit that congress just lacks the courage to do what everyone knows needs to be done.

The full debate can be heard on the CBS News Early Show on Tuesday morning.