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Strike One? Republicans Back Off Pledge To Cut Budget

Less than twenty-four hours before the 112th Congress is set to convene, House Republicans are already backing off their pledge to cut $100 Billion from the Federal Budget:

As they prepare to take power on Wednesday, Republican leaders are scaling back that number by as much as half, aides say, because the fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, will be nearly half over before spending cuts could become law.

While House Republicans never were expected to succeed in enacting cuts of that scale given opposition in the Senate, from the Democratic majority and some Republicans, and from President Obama, a House vote would put potentially vulnerable Republican lawmakers on record supporting deep reductions of up to 30 percent in education, research, law enforcement, transportation and more.

Now aides say the $100 billion figure was hypothetical, that the objective is to get annual spending for programs other than those for the military, veterans and homeland security back to the levels of 2008, before Democrats approved stimulus spending to end the recession.

Yet "A Pledge to America," the manifesto House Republicans published last September to tell voters what they would do if won a majority, included the promise, "We will roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, saving us at least $100 billion in the first year alone."

Republican leaders have repeatedly invoked the number. On Tuesday the Web site for Representative John A. Boehner, the incoming House speaker, included a link to his national radio address on the Saturday before midterm elections, in which he said, "We're ready to cut spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, saving roughly $100 billion almost immediately."

Representative Paul D. Ryan, the Republican who will become chairman of the House Budget Committee, said in December the goal was to cut "a good $100 billion." At issue is so-called discretionary domestic spending, which is about one-sixth of the federal budget and does not include the more costly and fast-growing entitlement programs like Medicare.

Republicans are apparently blaming this on the fact that the 111th Congress never got around to passing a final budget and the fact that Fiscal Year 2011 is already three months old, but shouldn’t they have thought about those things before making the promise in the first place, and then repeating it numerous times both before and after the election?

This is not an auspicious beginning guys.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Chad S says:

    Rarely do armies retreat before they take the field…

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  2. Steve Plunk says:

    If they save $50 billion in a half year that’s the equivalent of $100 billion a year. Regardless of that I would be happy if they just stop the increases. Weren’t we all just talking about not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good?

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  3. michael reynolds says:

    . . .because the fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, will be nearly half over before spending cuts could become law.

    This must have been a huge surprise to them. If only they had some people who knew this going in. Like, say, John Boehner.

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  4. Tlaloc says:

    Nobody really believed them when they said all that crap, right?

    Seriously, these are the exact same guys who turned the clinton surpluses into the titanic bush deficit.

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  5. john personna says:

    Steve, dude, it’s January 5th

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  6. narciso says:

    I don’t actually see a quote from any named source, so I will wait till they get sworn in, first before passing judgement

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  7. sam says:

    Hell, they’re not even following their “rules” on the first piece of legislation they’re going to vote on. And the reason they give is revealing: They say they don’t believe the CBO’s pronouncements are true. Think about that. If they propose a piece of legislation, and the CBO says it will add to the deficit, they can always say, “The CBO is wrong”. Neat.

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  8. tom p says:

    >> the goal was to cut “a good $100 billion.” <<<

    That's a Repblican for you, cutting the good and not the bad

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  9. Karbunckle says:

    Heck, they’ve been promising to overturn Roe Vs. Wade for 30+ years to get the fundie votes, so why not promise to hold the football for the tea partiers too. It gets them the votes, and the power, which is what they really want.

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