Reid says he could accept five-year spending freeze

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Wednesday evening he could accept the kind of five-year spending freeze President Obama proposed in his State of the Union address.

But the top Senate Democrat said he'd like to see defense spending included in that freeze as well.

"I can accept what the president suggests, on a five-year, across-the-board hold of discretionary spending," Reid said in an interview on CBS. "But he needs to include in that not only the discretionary domestic spending, but also military."

Reid's remarks represent something of a shift from just a year ago, when the majority leader gave a chilly reception to Obama's similar call for a spending freeze in last year's State of the Union. Since then, Reid's talked more about the possibility of spending cuts, especially after the installation of the new GOP-controlled House, with members eager to slash the budget.

Republicans were dissatisfied, though, by Obama's call for a spending freeze. If Reid's looking for a partner in the Senate, he is unlikely to find one in Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who called Obama's proposal "completely inadequate."

The GOP instead wants to reduce spending back to 2008 levels, a move that would create $50 billion to $60 billion in savings this year. The House is expected to pass legislation making those cuts some time in February.

But Congress shouldn't be bound by any numerical target, in terms of spending cuts, Reid contended.

"I don't think that we should have these artificial numbers. I think that what we should do is find out what we can cut that doesn't really gouge the country," he said. "We all recognize that we have a problem with the debt, and we must do something about the debt, with a programmatic approach."