House Republicans Propose $2.5 Trillion In Spending Cuts Over Ten Years
I suppose we should consider this the first first shot across the bow in the budget wars:
A group of conservative House Republicans laid out a plan to drastically cut federal spending over the next ten years, targeting everything from Amtrak to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to subsidies for mohair producers.
All told, it adds up to $2.5 trillion in cuts, whacking 55 different agencies and programs, including public housing, benefits for federal employees, funding for the arts and humanities and international aid.
Many of the proposed cuts represent longtime conservative targets, like the National Endowment for the Arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. They also would gut a wide range of energy and environmental programs — like weatherization and beach erosion funds — and have proposed clamping down on federal employee unions.
But the long list of spending cuts is notably silent on the two biggest federal budget drivers — entitlements and defense spending.
The proposed cuts were laid out Thursday by the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of House conservatives, and while it has not won the endorsement of GOP leaders, this package represents the most specific list of cuts so far from the new Republican majority.
The heart of the measure is a substitution of fiscal 2008 spending levels for nonsecurity and nonveterans programs when the current continuing resolution expires on March 4, followed by a subsequent reduction of domestic spending to 2006 levels.
The plan also cuts funds for the District of Columbia, including subsidies for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
House Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) stepped out Thursday to define his conservative credentials with a rhetorical flourish and a litany of spending cuts.
“I have never seen the American people more ready for the tough-love solutions,” Jordan told a few dozen people at The Heritage Foundation in a speech that was truncated by House votes. “The question today is whether the political class will rise to the level the American people set” in their political activism and the election results in the past 18 months.
“It doesn’t fix everything, but it’s a good first step,” Jordan said. “Everything needs to be on the table.” He included entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare, plus defense spending — even though his $2.5 trillion plan did not venture into those areas. He also said he is working on a welfare reform plan that would — “as soon as unemployment gets down to an acceptable level” — freeze social spending at 2007 levels.
The fact that the plan doesn’t even touch to two biggest items on the budget is troublesome, and it’s worth noting that $2.5 trillion over ten years amounts to no more than 6.5% of the total amount of anticipated Federal spending over that period. Nothing to sneeze at, but hardly the solution to our problems. Nonethless, it’s a good start. Let’s see them put this in legislative action, get it passed, and dare the Senate not to be fiscally responsible.