Tepid Reception for Obama Spending Freeze

The President's spending freeze proposal is is getting a pretty tepid reception up here today in the Senate. Many Dems want to see him take an axe to defense spending, as well.

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-IA, a senior appropriator, said, "I'm all for a freeze, but I dont want to exempt things."

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, was very noncommittal, as he revealed that the White House had not briefed him on the proposal. "I've heard little bits and pieces about the spending freeze. What I do know is that if we look at what preceded President Obama, eight years prior to President Obama's one year, we find that Republicans spent trillions of dollars on wars that were unpaid for; trillions of dollars in tax cuts that were not paid for; prescription drug expansion not paid for. And so I think that it's good that the president's going to look at this little piece of the economy, but...let's remember where we were, and talk about where we are and where we're going. And you can't talk about where we are and where we're going unless you look at what transpired in the eight years of the big hole they dug for us."

One senior Democratic leadership aide told Fox of the bill's prospects, "It's fair to say Reid and the Speaker are noncommittal. After years of cuts in the Bush Administration, I'm not sure how popular this will be with the respective caucuses."

Still some Dems, though a minority, wanted to see Obama do more. "I think it's a good start. I don't know what step 2 is...It's moving in the right direction, but more needs to be done," Sen. Ben Nelson, D-NE, said.

One Democrat offered praise. Sen Chuck Schumer, D-NY, called the proposal "very nice" and said he was glad Obama was "using a scalpel rather than a meat axe."

Of course, that later remarks hearkens back to the 2008 presidential campaign when then-candidate Obama took then-candidate John McCain, R-AZ, to task for suggesting a freeze of this sort.

McCain, thanking a reporter for "taking him back down memory lane" said, "I think the President understands now the problem," adding that it "requires hatchets and scalpels."

"I appreciate his changed position," McCain said with a grin.