BY Kenneth R. Bazinet
DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU
WASHINGTON - President Obama threw down a challenge Monday to Tea Party candidates, demanding to know how they would make all the spending cuts they promise.
"The challenge, I think, for the Tea Party movement is to identify specifically, what would you do? It's not enough just to say 'Get control of spending,'" Obama said at a town hall-style meeting on CNBC.
"I think it's important for you to say, 'You know, I'm willing to cut veterans' benefits,' or, 'I'm willing to cut Medicare or Social Security benefits,' or, 'I'm willing to see these taxes go up,'" Obama added.
The Democrats are taking unified aim at the Tea Party's penchant for complaining without providing solutions to the nation's woes.
Former President Bill Clinton used the same "What would you do?" line a day earlier on Sunday talk shows.
The exchanges between President and audience were mostly pleasant, but there were some awkward moments, like when one questioner cited a Wall Street mogul's remark that Obama's "approach to the financial regulation and taxation is like Hitler invading Poland."
"I don't know where that comes from," Obama said. "If you're making a billion dollars a year after a very bad financial crisis, where 8 million people lost their jobs and small businesses can't get loans, then I think that you shouldn't be feeling put upon."
In another pointed exchange, AMVETS official Velma Hart said: "I voted for a man who said he was going to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class ... And I'm waiting, sir."
"I understand your frustration," Obama responded. "My goal is not to convince you that everything is where it ought to be. It's not."