Fiorina fumbles on ‘Fox News Sunday’

On Sunday morning, California GOP Senate hopeful Carly Fiorina joined Chris Wallace, host of “Fox News Sunday,” for what should have been a friendly interview. Instead, it was a train wreck.

Wallace started his questioning by explaining that an extension of all the George W. Bush-era tax cuts would increase the federal debt by $4 trillion over the next decade. He then pressed Fiorina to explain what specific areas of the federal budget she would cut in order to close the budget gap. Over and over, she repeated her desire to balance the budget, but she failed to detail any cuts. Instead, she emphasized closing the budget gap by addressing the “waste, inefficiency and fraud” in Washington.

Certainly, no one expected Fiorina to call for the end of Social Security; yet there were ways to address Wallace’s question without getting into hot water. She could have referenced Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) “Roadmap for America’s Future,” which proposes a voucher system to help restrain Medicare spending. She could have mentioned Sen. John Thune’s (R-S.D.) Deficit Reduction and Budget Reform Act, which would require a biennial rather than annual budget, make the budget a binding law, establish a joint committee of Congress on deficit reduction and cap non-defense discretionary spending. And she could have talked about “deadweight loss” — the economic term for the ramifications of debilitating taxes. It would have been a perfect segue into talking about repealing the new healthcare law, which, for instance, creates $500 billion in new taxes over the next 10 years.

But she did none of this.

I appreciate Fiorina’s experience as the CEO of Hewlett-Packard. And I’ve followed Fiorina, who, like many of the other Republican women running this year, seems to understand the need to create certainty for business through the elimination of burdensome regulations and taxes.

But Fiorina, out to defeat 18-year incumbent Democrat Sen. Barbara Boxer, came across as unprepared to tackle a hemorrhaging federal budget. And even more concerning, she appeared unaware of the real threat at hand: the excessive growth of government.

As a senator, balancing the budget has to mean more than the bottom line; America is not a corporation. Fiorina needs to explain to voters that she understands when government becomes as large and as intrusive as ours, it undermines our individual rights and freedoms. It unequivocally alters the relationship between citizen and state and threatens the system of government on which the nation was founded. (Consider the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the healthcare reform bill, the Financial Regulatory Reform Bill and the proposed Disclose Act.)

Voters appreciate the need to tighten our belts during a period of economic uncertainty — and they can respect Fiorina’s experience overseeing budgets. But this election is about much more than fiscal policy. It’s about preserving the basic principles and ideals of our founding. It’s about returning to a system of government where people — not their leaders — determine their fortunes and futures.

With only two weeks until Election Day, Fiorina needs to keep that in mind.