It's a widely held belief in Washington that the nation's federal deficit is spiraling out of control. With a vote to once again raise the national debt "ceiling," the U.S. once again faces some of the toughest questions: Are we really willing to make serious budget cuts in order to get our debts under control? Will anyone in Washington have the political will to make difficult cuts to popular programs?
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., has (once again) become a political lightning rod for proposing to cut $4.5 billion from the federal budget in order to avoid raising the debt ceiling in March.
Bachmann has been hammered in the media for suggesting veterans' benefits are one area that could see cuts. Specifically, her proposal (.pdf) would "cap increases in Department of Veterans Affairs health care spending" and "reduce Veterans' Disability Compensation to account for Social Security Disability Insurance payments."
Despite the cuts to the Department of Veterans Affairs accounting for just 1 percent of her total proposal, the news media seized on the headline and the leading story became less about the need to cut from the federal budget and more about Bachmann's "outrageous" attack on veterans.
No one was available for comment when The Blaze reached out to Rep. Bachmann's office, but the congresswoman's communications director previously dismissed the criticism in an email to Fox News:
Reached for comment, Bachmann spokesman Doug Sachtleben told FoxNews.com in an e-mail that Bachmann is not pushing a "budget plan" and "has not introduced legislation to cut veterans benefits."
"Congresswoman Bachmann is not advocating for veterans' benefits to be abolished. She has always said that our nation must properly care for its heroes," he said.
Rather, Sachtleben described the proposal as a "list of suggested cuts to open things up for discussion" on how to reduce the nation's $14 trillion debt.
What began as a conversation-starter about cutting the federal budget across the board to avoid raising the ceiling became a front-page story claiming that Bachmann had a beef with our nation's veterans.
Which brings me back to my original question: We all know we have a spending problem, but what are we willing to do about it? I'm not saying that we have to cut veterans benefits at all, but if a member of Congress can't even get a conversation started about making cuts, what are the chances they'll get made?