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Townsend, Gibbons Suffer “Tom DeLay” Moment

In a Las Vegas Sun story today, Sen. Townsend tossed out this gem: “Very rarely have I seen wasteful spending.”

It was preceded by this declaration by Gibbons’ spokesman Dan Burns: “The notion that we have some kind of fat, bloated budget that can be trimmed is simply wrong. The budget we have submitted is bare bones.”

Good grief, Charlie Brown.

Those statements will remind many folks of similar comments made by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) back on September 14, 2005. In response to criticism by conservatives that Republicans weren’t cutting enough spending to offset the increased cost of the Hurricane Katrina clean-up, DeLay famously (infamously?) declared an “ongoing victory” over federal spending, claiming there was no fat left to cut in the budget.

“My answer to those that want to offset the spending is sure, bring me the offsets, I’ll be glad to do it,” DeLay said at the time. “But nobody has been able to come up with any yet.”

Which led the fine conservative folks over at the Republican Study Committee to respond a week later with “Operation Offset,” a detailed proposal to shave an additional $543 billion from existing government spending. That report included this quote from a New Mexico conservative: “Give us a quiet room, copies of the spending bills, a box of red pencils, and watch what happens.”

I dare suggest that a similar exercise would help Sen. Townsend and Mr. Burns with Nevada’s budget.