Do Republicans Want To Cut Spending, Or Just Score Cheap Political Points?

Based on this report on the current negotiations over a final budget deal, it certainly doesn’t seem to me that the House GOP is as interested in cutting spending as they say they are:

Republicans are poised to reject a White House offer, TPM has learned, that would cut over $30 billion in current spending because of disagreements over whether the package should include cuts to mandatory spending programs. Democrats are pushing for such cuts, which include the big entitlement programs, though the specific cuts they’re proposing remain unclear. In an ironic twist, Republicans oppose those cuts and want to limit the negotiations to non-defense discretionary spending, a smaller subset of the federal budget.

Taken together, the last several days’ worth of developments bode very poorly for the goal of reaching a six-month agreement on spending. The parties have until April 8 to reach agreement, and the odds of a government shutdown are higher now than they’ve been since this process began.

Asked about the offer the White House has floated, a top Republican aide says, “This debate has always been about discretionary spending — not autopilot ‘mandatory’ spending or tax hikes.”

If that position doesn’t soften, it’s hard to see how the two parties reach agreement.

I cannot for the life of me understand why the GOP would be opposed to cuts to mandatory programs, since that’s where the meat of the budget problem actually is, and the idea of getting Democrats to agree to those types of cuts to begin with strikes me as a victory for the GOP. It’s possible that this is merely a negotiating position and that the parties will continue talking, but this doesn’t bode well for the process and the probability of a government shutdown seems fairly high at this point.

Nice work, GOP.


FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held 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 contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Michael says:

    Do the Democrats just want to keep spending money we don’t have?….and eventually destroy the country?….hmmmm? Doug?

  2. Vast Variety says:

    It would seem to me that if the GOP is unwilling to make cuts in teh areas of the budget where it will really matter like Defence, Social Security, and Medicare, then its really the GOP that…

    just want to keep spending money we don’t have?….and eventually destroy the country?

  3. Michael,

    I’m no fan of the Democrat’s spending policies but I see no rational reason why the GOP would insist on limiting cuts to only non-defense discretionary spending.

  4. legion says:

    Ummm… Doug? You been living under a rock the last couple of years? No less a legitimate GOP leader than Mitch McConnell has stated that their purpose in office is to defeat Obama.

    Not create jobs.
    Not fix the economy.
    Not anything but defeat Obama.

    It is an explicit part of the current GOP platform to oppose anything Obama (or any Democrat, for that matter) proposes for the sole reason that as long as the country keeps getting worse, they can blame it on Democrats. I would point out that Gingrich just got caught out doing exactly that.

  5. john personna says:

    Surely the GOP is no polling well with independents …

  6. sam says:


    “Do the Democrats just want to keep spending money we don’t have?….and eventually destroy the country?…”

    According to the story Doug quoted, the Democrats want to move on entitlements, the Republicans don’t.

  7. Axel Edgren says:

    Obama addressed Medicare solvency in the ACA and republicans went psychotic. They. Don’t. Care. About. Real. Issues. You. Effing. Idiots.

    I will say this again: There is not a single deficit-scolding, “fiscally prudent” debt-alarmist that is worth anyone’s spit. They are all pathetic and insincere, ideological morons through and through, from Ryan to Daniels. They can’t help the country.

    In order to accurately convey what the republican policies and ideas are worth, you would have to gather every peer-reviewed and validated paper in macroeconomics and burn it outside of Capitol.

  8. MM says:

    I cannot for the life of me understand why the GOP would be opposed to cuts to mandatory programs, since that’s where the meat of the budget problem actually is

    Really? The fact is running on a platform cutting spending is wildly popular, however aside from foreign aid, cutting actual spending is very unpopular. And given that a large portion of mandatory spending goes to people that the GOP would like to see vote Republican (military, seniors), most politicians aren’t interested in doing anything more than shout about out of control spending. I mean, you don;t want to be one of those GOP guys who gets primaried for being weak on defense or making little old ladies eat cat food, do you?

    So the new austerity is going to extend to things like NPR and the EPA and things that won’t really get the seniors or the armed forces or defense contractors upset.

    This incidentally, is why “waste, fraud and abuse” are bandied about as cost controls and also why John McCain likes to point out his examples of pork. It’s sounding serious without actually being serious.

  9. David says:

    Why waste time on doing anything to actually start addressing the deficit when you can complain about nickle and dime stuff that hits on the hot buttons of your base?

  10. john personna says:

    I believe the Republicans are going to make up the difference on “waste and inefficiency.”

  11. Chris says:

    This is just so sad that the government may shut down on Friday. The economy is already in terrible shape as it is somepeople are homeless without jobs and no food. God is very displeased with this world look at all the natural disaters that are happening. Everyone that cannot afford to get free healthcare should get it, no one should put a price tag on a persons health. I am sorry what has happened to Japan but they did not need all of those nuclear power plants. This world is getting more wicked by the second. Global warming may destroy this world. Too many people are selfish. The economy may continue to get worse because people are afraid to spend money and a lot of people are struggling to make ends meet. You have these old rich fools in the Republican party who just want to cut cut cut cut, why don’t they cut their salaries.
    Things That Can Get The Economy Up Again:
    1. Government should supplement American citizens income
    2. Create more jobs

    We cannot just blame Obama George Bush created this horrible mess in this country.