McCain: Cutting Pork Doesn't Have to Be Partisan

Democratic Senators Ben Nelson (Neb.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) and Barack Obama (Ill.) might need to start watching their backs–their own party may be after them soon.

Republican Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) named the four senators last week as Democrats he feels he can work with to cut fiscal spending by eliminating pork-barrel projects.

At the same time, he issued an apology: “I hope I didn’t damage their reputations permanently by mentioning their name but there is a group, and there’s more besides the ones that I just mentioned, who I think believe very strongly as we do that the situation is out of control and needs to be fixed.”

The statement came following a speech he gave at the Heritage Foundation last Wednesday regarding the urgent need to cut back federal spending. McCain reviewed the objectives of a new spending cuts package revealed last Tuesday by himself and six Republican colleagues who call themselves the “Fiscal Watch Team.”

Acknowledging that a bi-partisan effort would be the most effective way to cut spending, McCain said there is a fresh batch of young Democrats he plans to work with.

“There’s a group of newer Democrat senators that have come into the Senate–some of them from “swing states” as we call them, some of them [from] very large states–that I believe have kind of a different attitude than maybe the orthodox democrat views in the past so I’m confident that we’ll work with them,” he said.

Balancing the budget deficit, McCain said, should not be the only concern that brings the two parties together. He said America is facing other problems that can’t be classified as red or blue.

“We need to have a Democrat and Republican or Democrats and Republicans stand next to each other on issues that are of transcendent importance to the American people. Social security should not be a political issue. Medicare bankruptcy should not be a political issue. And yet we don’t do that anymore.”

McCain referred to the historic moment when Republican President Ronald Reagan and Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill stood side by side in the White House Rose Garden to announce federal plans for Social Security reform in 1983.

Top Democrat leader Harry Reid certainly won’t be standing by a Republican’s side any time soon–at least not to back spending reform.

Reid, the Senate minority leader from Nevada, publicly denounced the Fiscal Watch Team’s plan, calling it “immoral.”

In response to this criticism, McCain said he would like Reid to come up with a plan of his own.

“I eagerly await Harry’s alternative on spending restraint,” he said.

McCain said Americans are demanding that fiscal responsibility be taken seriously.

“If there’s something good that may have come out of Katrina,” he said, “it may be that it has heightened the awareness dramatically of the American people about the deficit budget difficulties and spending problems we have here in the city of Satan.”