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Undercutting the Budget-Slashing Talk

Turning unsuspecting politicians’ words against them is basically a sport in this town.

Still, we were surprised to hear New York’s Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, and Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) cry foul over an attempt by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) to claim consensus in the deficit reduction fight.

The squabbling began after Blackburn blanketed fellow lawmakers with a “Dear Colleague” letter intimating that she and various GOP bigwigs were on the same page when it comes to spending cuts. To prove her point, Blackburn stitched together partial quotes from Cuomo, New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie and Indiana GOP Gov. Mitch Daniels into a tacit endorsement of her plans to shrink the government.

“Across-the-board spending cuts are used by many of our state governments as a sensible way to cut spending without picking winners and losers,” Blackburn said, touting her revenue-trimming amendment to the fiscal 2013 Energy and water development appropriations bill as an obvious fix.

Not so fast, declared Tonko.

“In an era where each decision we make has a very real impact on the stability of our economy and the lives and livelihoods of our constituents, I hope you will agree with me that we must approach critical programs related to our nation’s energy security with a scalpel, not a sledgehammer. I hope you will join me in opposing this amendment,” he wrote in a “Dear Colleague” reply.

And, just for good measure, he made sure to include a little cautionary note from the Cuomo camp:

Dear Member and Staff:

While we appreciate Ms. Blackburn thinking of us and acknowledging the great work of the Governor of New York, the Governor’s office does NOT support the federal across the board cut that the Congresswoman proposes.

We look forward to working with our New York delegation to move the critical bills that are pending through Congress (i.e. Transportation Reauthorization, the Farm Bill and the appropriation bills) that will enable New York, and the rest of the country, to accelerate our economic recovery.

Alexander Cochran

Special Counsel to the Governor