Vote first, answer questions later

VOTE FIRST, ANSWER QUESTIONS LATER…. The most common phenomenon in American politics is Republican candidates promising to cut spending. As a matter of economics, it’s a dubious idea — when an economy is struggling, deliberately taking money out of the system, usually to the detriment of struggling families, is backwards.

But the entertainment comes when these same GOP candidates are asked to tell voters what, exactly, they’d like to see cut. Linda McMahon, a wrestling company executive who won the Republican Senate nomination in Connecticut, has made vague spending cuts the centerpiece of her platform. But note what happens when she’s asked, for example, to talk about her approach to entitlements that represent 40% of the federal budget.

“I can certainly tell you I’m not adverse [sic] to talking in the right time or forum about what we need to do relative to our entitlements,” McMahon said in an interview. “I mean, Social Security is going to go bankrupt. Clearly, we have to strengthen that…. I just don’t believe that the campaign trail is the right place to talk about that.”

It isn’t? Candidates seeking statewide office shouldn’t tell voters about their priorities and ideas before the election? Given that McMahon is obviously deeply confused about the policy — Social Security is not, in reality, going bankrupt — the need for her to talk publicly about her intentions is all the more acute.

As Kevin Drum noted, “After all, people might not vote for you if they knew what you actually thought.”

I’m curious, if the campaign trail is the wrong place for candidates to discuss public policy, what, exactly, does McMahon consider the right place?

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.