House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer spoke Tuesday morning in a large private room (the Columbus Room) at Union Station in Washington, D.C. and took questions. He had no answers for the questions I put to him.
Hoyer's topic was fiscal responsibility, and he said that his proposals -- which were all pure vagueness -- would be appropriate to enact "as soon as the economy is fully recovered." Don't hold your breath.
Hoyer, as is the custom, bragged about cutting and trying to cut particular weapons systems. So I asked him how he could have neglected to mention two closely related points (as is the custom):
1-He's been increasing the overall military budget.
2-He's been funding the escalation of war completely off the books.
He replied that all such issues should be "on the table." But he did not explain his failure to put them there or suggest how he would act on them.
None of the assembled Washington Press Corpse followed up.
But two people did ask good questions about why in the world he would want to go after Social Security or Medicare. One guy asked why we couldn't go after Wall Street instead. Hoyer mumbled about passing regulatory reform, and blamed Bush.
Hoyer repeatedly deferred to the president. In fact, he said that if the president's commission on the deficit produces any recommendations, and if the Senate passes them, he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will put them on the floor for a vote -- no matter what they might be.
Later Hoyer informed us that only a president can stop spending. I spoke up and asked him "If you don't pass it, how does the President sign it?" He stared back at me like a donkey in the headlights. He said nothing.