U.S. Senate candidate John Brunner, a leading Republican candidate hoping to take on U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill in the fall, yesterday was unable to name a single federal program popular among Missourians that he thought spent too much money.
Brunner is one of eight candidates seeking the Republican nomination for McCaskill's seat. Only three — Brunner, former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman and U.S. Rep. Todd Akin — are mounting true statewide campaigns. McCaskillis unopposed in the Aug. 7 primary.
At an appearance before the Columbia Pachyderm Club, Brunner presented himself as the outsider with the skills to go to Washington, D.C., and fix problems ranging from over-regulation to deficit spending. He said that his votes would be based on what the country needs, not what would get him re-elected.
"If you get people up there who are not concerned about re-election but worried about getting the job done, it is a lot easier to make those hard and tough calls," said Brunner, who has promised to limit himself to two terms.
His rhetoric about making tough decisions was tested, however, when time came for questions.
Wayne Ambrust of Columbia asked Brunner to name a popular program in Missouri that deserves to be cut.
"To me that is the true test of someone who really wants to cut spending," Ambrust told Brunner. "What about things that are popular here that I think are totally wasteful, like ethanol subsidies and solar energy and wind power and things like that?"
Brunner was unable to come up with specifics in Missouri, but he did cite a report from Sen. Tom Colburn, R-Okla., that questions spending on hundreds of items, including limousines for top officials.
"In the last three years there has been a 72 percent increase in federal limousines in Washington D.C.," Brunner said. "We are now up to over 460 limousines. What the heck are we doing?"