House GOP must not go wobbly on spending cuts

The good news out of Washington is that conservative House members, including a number of newcomers, appear to be stiffening GOP leaders’ resolve to cut federal spending.

The bad news? That those leaders needed additional steel in the first place.

Many of the millions of Americans who voted for Republicans last year, shifting power in the House away from Democrats on a historic scale, did so despite harboring worries that the new GOP majority wouldn’t deliver on its lofty promises.

It was only four years earlier, these voters remembered, that they’d cast out Republicans who had proven not to be fiscal conservatives. Worries remained, particularly among independents, that Republicans might fall off the wagon again if given the chance.

It’s safe to say those who voted Republican anyway found the alternative — two more years of Speaker Nancy Pelosi — untenable. The balloting was less a celebration of Republicans than “a restraining order” on Democrats, as P.J. O’Rourke wrote in an election-eve essay in the Weekly Standard titled “They Hate Our Guts.”

That said, Republicans’ actions until late last week threatened to those nagging doubts in voters’ minds into reality.

Many conservatives groused when Kentucky’s Hal Rogers was reinstalled as Appropriations chairman even though the committee was far too spendthrift when he last presided over it. On cue, Rogers’ initial proposal for the rest of the fiscal year — which ends Sept. 30, and whose budget is an open issue because Democrats didn’t pass spending bills last year — included just $35 billion in cuts.

That’s less than 1 percent of this year’s spending, which the Congressional Budget Office recently projected at $3.7 trillion.

And if these cuts sound like less than what Republicans promised during the 2010 campaign, you’re right. The pledge was “at least $100 billion.”

Republicans might — might — have had an argument had they tried to prorate the $100 billion in cuts from this year’s budget, and then taken the full amount from next year’s budget. Then, they might — might — have argued they didn’t anticipate Democrats’ dropping the budgetary ball, and could do only so much in the rest of 2011. But that’s not what they did at first.

As of Friday, it appeared deeper cuts were on the way: $170 billion over 12 months, though it was still unclear as of this writing how much would come in this year’s budget.

How refreshing to see a spending debate in Congress lead to more cuts, not fewer. The freshman lawmakers who pushed their leaders this way are doing right by their voters.

But there’s more to be done. The specific promise was to “cut government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels.” That pledge was generally considered a reference to 2008 (although that year did include a $152 billion stimulus).

In 2008, the federal government spent just less than $3 trillion. The last I checked, the difference between that and this year’s $3.7 trillion is a lot more than $100 billion.

Seven times more, in fact.

Now, the pledge may have referred only to discretionary spending, which is a fraction of total federal outlays. But that’s a typically D.C. way of thinking about spending. When families sit around the kitchen table to talk about tightening the belt, as so many members of Congress described last year as candidates, they don’t say, “Well, the rent went up, and so did the car insurance, and our property taxes. But those are mandatory expenses, so we’ll just borrow the money to pay for those increases and only worry about budgeting when it comes to everything else.”

No, sooner or later, you have to look at the total amount you’re spending. And if there are mandatory items you can’t cut, then you cut deeper where you can to make up for them.

Now, back to those 2008 spending levels. Even a prorated return, over the rest of this fiscal year, would mean some $360 billion in cuts.

And even then, we would add $1.1 trillion to our debt

…which would still grow to more than $14.5 trillion…

…which would still be about $4.4 trillion more than it was after 2008.

At such heights — or maybe I should say depths — we don’t need supposed fiscal conservatives to restrain their restraint.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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155 comments Add your comment

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmmmm, mmmm, mmm! Just sayin...

February 11th, 2011
7:15 pm

It isn’t like the pickings are slim, just sayin…

If these Republicxans didn’t get the message from the voters in November, if they want to act like dummycrats and think that we forgot already, if they’ve succumbed to the greedy sickness of coveting other people’s money, they’re gone, we will try out the next batch of candidates the first chance we get.

We will weed through all the Scott Browns no matter how long tit takes.

Darwin

February 11th, 2011
9:16 pm

Ah, we’re so late to the party. We really didn’t care until a non-white man was elected president. Now we’re really pi$$ed off. Heck, we don’t really think he was even born here in America. For 8 years, we spent. We didn’t care. But now we do. We will cut. Let’s start with that major expansion of Medicare under President Bushwacked. No? That might upset the white majority. Well, let’s dance at the party anyway. As long as they swallow the crap we put out, the music plays. I’m waiting. Remember, it’s all about jobs.

BishopLongStrokes

February 11th, 2011
9:31 pm

I have plenty of youth group activities available in case anyones budgets gets cuts. Ya’ll know how to find me.

Darwin's Problem

February 11th, 2011
9:35 pm

@ Darwin – What’s your problem with white people?

Brent

February 11th, 2011
9:36 pm

It’s not about Obama. I’d be happy to see him make the cuts, as opposed to a Republican counterpart. In fact, there’s plenty to like about BO (he’s trying to close Gitmo, he initiated the end of “don’t ask don’t tell’,…).

Nonetheless, we must address the budget like adults. Forget about parties, we must all pay the debt regardless of which “side” we’re on. As long as partisanship is an excuse, it will be counter-productive to the goal.

Ex Dem

February 11th, 2011
9:51 pm

Obama is worse than Bush. I was so excited in 2008, full of so much hope. But his whole administration is a disaster. I’m not even going to vote in 2012.

old timer

February 11th, 2011
10:03 pm

I’d say the UN…they are wasten our money..just saying

Mickey

February 11th, 2011
10:19 pm

Less foreign aid, 1.5 bill for those corrupt scum bags in Egypt. The joke’s on us.

JoeR

February 11th, 2011
10:25 pm

I agree with Ex Dem. I think Obama is horrible, and I voted for him. I’m done defending that failure of man. I think Hillary would have done a better job. Obama just wasn’t ready, and watching over the past two years I doubt the man will ever be ready. He’s a joke. Bring back Bill Clinton, that man was a great president. He had a great work ethic and love his job and our country. Obama is a clueless embarrassment to the Democratic Party. And he is an embarrassment to this nation.

RealityCheck

February 11th, 2011
10:41 pm

It is really difficult to believe that so many bloggers think that Bush did a good job while in office. Is it selective amnesia or what? At this time we need a nonpartisan approach to the budget crisis. This will involve across-the-board cuts back to the spending levels of at least 2008. There should be no programs or departments exempt from the cuts.

retiredds

February 11th, 2011
11:24 pm

Republicans take aim at some of their favorite targets in the measure, reducing financing to the Environmental Protection Agency by $3 billion — an almost 30 percent cut from current levels. The measure would also block the agency from implementing new emissions regulations, and it would cut more than $100 million in spending on climate change programs.

Bravo!! Let’s pollute the earth! Let’s suffocate on the fumes of the Republicans rhetoric. Let’s degrade creation until it no longer can sustain life as we know it. The garden that was created for our care will be destroyed by the Republicans in the name of …. saving a few pence here and there.

The Original Get Real

February 12th, 2011
12:49 am

All that needs to be said is $14 trillion in debt; does not matter who is to blame, plenty of blame to go around. I say again, $14 trillion in debt; it will not be easy to reduce and yes, it will be painful…

Light on Policy

February 12th, 2011
1:29 am

Just as I anticipated Kyle no where in this ideological rant did young mention the lionshare of Federal spending, Medicare/Medicaid and Defense..but as you stated these new lawmakers are doing “right by their voters” Now would that be perception or reality

John

February 12th, 2011
1:48 am

Glad to see Republicans still have their priorities in order…cuts to programs like WIC to feed to poor, education, job training, the environment and nutrition, few domestic programs were left untouched while giving tax breaks to the ultra rich.

43 percent cut in border security fencing and at the same time claim Obama is not doing enough to secure the border. What happened to all their yelling about illegal immigration?

John

February 12th, 2011
1:55 am

“Now, the pledge may have referred only to discretionary spending, which is a fraction of total federal outlays. But that’s a typically D.C. way of thinking about spending. When families sit around the kitchen table to talk about tightening the belt, as so many members of Congress described last year as candidates, they don’t say, “Well, the rent went up, and so did the car insurance, and our property taxes. But those are mandatory expenses, so we’ll just borrow the money to pay for those increases and only worry about budgeting when it comes to everything else.”

No, sooner or later, you have to look at the total amount you’re spending. ”

You also have to take a look at the total amount you’re bring in. It may mean you need a 2nd job or a higher paying job…i.e. raise taxes. But like all Republicans, you only look at one side of the equation and always say it’s a spending problem. In reality, it’s both a revenue and spending problem.

Toby

February 12th, 2011
6:32 am

15 million jobs would solve a lot of problems.

Willis

February 12th, 2011
7:35 am

Depression is on the way. Then what will the Republicans do? More tax cuts for the rich?

Will

February 12th, 2011
7:54 am

Federal spending, as proposed by current President Obama and former President Bush (the most fiscally liberal republican president of this century) are, indeed, unsustainable.

But……because both republican and democrat politicians do not have the political courage to touch the sacred cows of spending (where real savings are to be had), other areas that may be politically popular but have neglible impact on the overall budget will suffer inordinately.

For example, federal funding to provide protection for the Appalachian Trail corridor is insignificant to the overall budget. Cut out all of this spending and the fiscal budget moves a tiny fraction that doesn’t even show up until you move out more decimal points than is reported. But….politicians (not leaders) can get a few votes but saying something like, “wasteful spending on projects like these may make a few tree huggers happy but for real Americans, we were sent here to do better”.

And the band plays on………….

lynnie gal

February 12th, 2011
8:04 am

Yes, it’s so lofty to keep cutting budgets…let’s keep cutting budgets until our children are ignorant, our elderly are choosing between heat and groceries, our libraries are closed, our police and firemen are so few you wait hours for help, our bridges collapse and everyone is sick because they can’t afford to go to a doctor. Yeah, that’s a real lofty vision of our near future.

outsider

February 12th, 2011
8:07 am

Few Americans are really serious about the deficit, and the least serious may be the tea party types. There is no way to balance the budget by cutting only discretionary spending. There just aren’t enough dollars.

A serious look at the deficit would focus on long-term issues (mostly Medicare, but also other entitlements) and radically cut wasteful military spending. We are responsible for 40% of all military spending in the world, and much of it goes for equipment the DoD doesn’t want/need and far-flung bases around the world. We can’t afford the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

We also need tax increases and tax simplification, which does not mean a so-called flat tax. We now have the lowest tax revenues, as a percent of GDP (~14.5%), since the Truman administration.

We need to increase infrastructure spending on roads, transit, electrical transmission, etc. (Road improvements are a huge need across the country, but we need transit in places like Chicago, New York and even Atlanta.)

We can’t do this all tomorrow, but it can be done. Canada had a huge budget deficit in the 1990s and solved it with sizable budget cuts and some tax increases. They are now in a much better position than the US, and the Canadian dollar is actually worth more than a US dollar. Unfortunately, we lack the vision and fortitude to do the right thing. We Americans find it much easier to recite bumper sticker slogans about cutting taxes or saving Social Security than to make the difficult decisions.

jconservative

February 12th, 2011
8:31 am

“That those leaders needed additional steel in the first place.”

Nice sentence Kyle. This sentence tells all why the National Debt is $14 trillion instead of a few hundred billion.

History proves that there are two ingredients in government deficits, reduction in revenue and increases in spending. I am afraid we have lost sight of this historical fact.

As of today, 11 straight American presidents have signed into law deficit producing budgets. (Yeah, I know about Clinton’s 3 straight balanced budgets.)

We decided to cut taxes. We talked about cutting spending. We actually did cut taxes. But we did not cut spending. We then had huge deficits and a resulting huge National Debt.

But did everyone get their panties in a wad? No! They were having to much fun living off the fat of the land.

Now, 30 years later, everyone has their panties in a wad because of deficits and debt.

Why did everyone suddenly get their panties in a wad?

It should have happened in 2003 when we created the first trillion dollar entitlement in over 30 years, Medicare Part D. But we did not get excited. We even reelected the president who gave us the new entitlement!

So why all of a sudden?

I do not have an answer.

both parties are only interested in one thing

February 12th, 2011
8:50 am

and that is reelection.

it’s disgusting. we must find the leaders from somewhere who will address medicare, medicaid and the military budgets. until then, we are spinning our wheels and falling into the ditch.

PR in GA

February 12th, 2011
8:54 am

Stop giving aid to illegal aliens… no more medicaid, no more food stamps, stop giving them free health care, workers comp, no more WIC, don’t allow them to register a care under their kids social security, free education, the list goes on and on.. watch the savings for GA grow!!!!! Stop giving employers a slap on the wrist,that use illegal housekeepers and landscapers… I believe if you are serious about saving tax dollars start writing your local representatives and demand action is a start.. If you go to a restaurant and see to many Mexicans, Whatever stop going there!!! GA needs less lip service and more ACTION NOW!!! I moved from NY to get away from the illegals only to come to state where every other person I encounter here either doesn’t speak English or refuses to become legal and TAKE TAKE my tax dollars!!! Does anyone know which STATE is illegal free!!! Please tell me and I’ll find out how their saving tax dollars and I’ll move there!!!!

Mustfi Obeda

February 12th, 2011
8:55 am

The people of the United States need to march in Washington D.C. to remove Obama!

Democrat

February 12th, 2011
8:58 am

Feed, house, and employ me!

Cut It Where It Hurts the Most

February 12th, 2011
9:05 am

Time for the nouveau spendthrifts to cut military spending to the bone. You may dazzle with cuts to proportionately miniscule programs that have the Tpartiers peeing their pants, but you know and I know those are symbolic cuts. If we ever want to make headway against this deficit, we need to re-think our military presence worldwide, and make the Pentagon accountable for every red cent that enters their coffers. It’ll be very interesting if the tea clowns go after their sacred cow. So far, it looks like they only want to go the easy, politically expedient route, which is hypocrisy at its finest.

Still Waiting For the Trickle Down

February 12th, 2011
9:12 am

Anybody have an educated guess when all that wealth is going to start to trickle down? I’ve been waiting since, well, since Reagan sold us this bill of goods.

And working my fool azz off every day in the meantime.

J Reb

February 12th, 2011
9:39 am

Strong spending cuts should begin in Washington starting with the salaries, benefits, expenses, retirement, perks, staffs etc of the members of Congress, the White House, the judiciary, etc. Let’s see members of Congress buy their own insurance and NO retirement money for them serving – ever.

Brad

February 12th, 2011
9:41 am

PR, New York is anxiously awaiting your return.

Road Scholar

February 12th, 2011
9:42 am

Hey Boehmer, where are the jobs? You got the tax break for the rich. Where’s the trickle down? Is it slow because its winter, like maple sap? Speaking of saps! Hey McConnell, where are the jobs?

retiredds: Go post! And thanks for the compliment yesterday.

I wonder when Boehmer will allow the replacement jet engine for a jet that the Pentagon DOES NOT WANT but is made in his district to be cut? Lead by example?

Brad

February 12th, 2011
9:43 am

Or maybe try Sonora.

Churchill's MOM

February 12th, 2011
10:03 am

Why are there no cuts in farm subsidies or the elimination of the ETHANOL rip off?

Churchill's MOM

February 12th, 2011
10:06 am

Finn McCool (Yes, Reps won, they now control a whopping 1/2 of 1/3 of the legislative body.) (Golf Clap.)

February 12th, 2011
10:19 am

Start with foreign aid – if a country like israel, Egypt, Columbia, Jordan, etc, etc, can’t stand on it’s own two feet, then it deserves to fail and go the way of the Roman Empire. Bye bye.

Next, cuts at the pentagon, then with farm subsidies.

real john

February 12th, 2011
10:23 am

For all of you talking about cuts to Medicare, bring it on. Bush has a tremendous idea, but most people are to dumb to realize it. I would be more than happy to elect not to contribute to Social Security. I will take that money and invest on my own. Privatived accouts are and will eventually be the way to go.

Just as most large companies realized 10-15 years ago, that private pensions would ruin their companies and switched to 401(k) matching programs, the Federal and State Governments need to do the same. People are simply going to keep living much longer. The government could give some sort of match and come out much better.

The same with Medicare. I would be happy to elect out and put the money in an account for later in life.

What most Dumbocrats really want, is for the hard working among us just to keep paying for the lazy people who just want to “take” from the Government (i.e. the Americans actually paying taxes)..

real john

February 12th, 2011
10:28 am

P.S. For you Democrats that keep complaining about the ‘EVIL” tax cuts, most of you are benefitting from it too. I’ve said this many times, if you hate the tax cuts so much, don’t take it and write the extra amount as a check to the IRS if you are so concerned with the debt…..Do I have any takers???? I didn’t think so.

Also, your beloved Obama extended the tax cuts. If they were so bad, why did he extend them? Either he knows they are better than letting them expire, or he has not guts??? Hmmmmm

Rafe Hollister

February 12th, 2011
10:34 am

The Dems don’t really want to cut anything other than defense and farm Subsidies (because most farmers are white, I think), so here is an idea.

Republicans pick out $75 Billion in cuts in programs they find offensive, like Public Broadcasting, EPA, Dept of Ed, Foreign Aid, entitlements to illegals.

Then you challenge the Dems to pick $75 Billion they want to cut and dare them to do more. Tell them for every dollar they cut over $75 Billion we will cut the same.

Nothing like a challenge, the more both sides cut the better off we as a nation are. My bet is the Dems would immediately start negiotiating that $75 Billion figure down rather than add to it. They love that government spending.

nels

February 12th, 2011
10:35 am

The 2010 budget was 3.55 trillion. At the current rate of spending, the federal debt is projected to near 20 trillion by end 2015 and will continue to climb, it does not take a university of Georgia finance professor to say that is unsustainable.

Now, the reASON FOR THE DRAMATIC, NO SLOWDOWN CLIMB IS completely psychological. Every citizen of this country wants to be the recipient of the last dollar before national bankruptcy. Every town, county, state and all other organizations want that last dollar. No one wants to cut spending, they want that last dollar bill before “going belly up” U.S. I might add Hosni Mubarak has between 40 and 70 billion dollars making him the worlds richest. U.S. aid has been around 70 billion since he took control of Egypt and their finances.

Darwin

February 12th, 2011
10:45 am

@ Darwin’s Problem – “What’s your problem with white people?”

Maybe because I’m a middle aged white man who’s listened to enough bigotry from family, friends, and co-workers to last a life time. No BS me here man. You and I and everyone else knows that prejudice drives the white voting public. You ever heard of the southern strategy you jerk wad?

Rafe Hollister

February 12th, 2011
10:48 am

You on here who are “waiting on the trickle down or waiting for the jobs” are like a basketball playing waiting on the foul call. The other team has stolen the ball and scored two on the other end and you are complaining at the ref. Life’s tough, get engaged.

real john

February 12th, 2011
11:00 am

Darwin:

Hmmm…maybe thats why 98% of blacks voted for Obama (an astounding figure), but blacks only make up 13% of the U.S. population.

News Flash…the white people actually are the ones who put Obama in power. Even if EVERY SINGLE black person in American voted for Obama, he would still get crushed if a large majority of whites didn’t vote for him as well…

Explain to me how people like Charlie Rangel and whats his name from here in Georgia (who literally thought Guam might tip over if more troops were sent there) keep getting elected. I’m sure it has nothing to do with them being in majority black districts…

It goes both ways buddy. My experience is that black people are WAY more predjudice toward white people.

Red Hammer

February 12th, 2011
11:00 am

Road Kill the liberal bed wetter – “Hey Boehmer, where are the jobs? You got the tax break for the rich. Where’s the trickle down?”

It’s been WEEKS since the Republicans took over the House and gained Senate seats, you mental midget bed wetter. They’ve got a steep hill to climb after FOUR YEARS of job killing by your precious Nanny Pelosi. You start by giving taxpayer WHO PAY TAXES back their money, many of whom OWN BUSINESSES. Tool.

Now moving on to the news of the week and the cluelessness of the White House and incompetence of liberal Demorats………….

“Testifying today before the House Budget Committee, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Doug Elmendorf confirmed that Obamacare is expected to reduce the number of jobs in the labor market by an estimated 800,000.”

Only 800k? I’d wager many millions. Just wait until small business owners realize how much it will cost them. Great job on them jobs, Nanny Pelosi! Of course, according to her brilliance, the bill had to be passed before we could find out what’s in it. And meanwhile like above, that rotten onion keeps getting peeled back more and more.

Aquagirl

February 12th, 2011
11:09 am

Our financial problems aren’t complicated, listen to Clark Howard, people: until Congress talks about fixing Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, it’s all just window dressing.

Small Gov't My A##

February 12th, 2011
11:19 am

What’s the problem, Kyle? DEFICITS DON’T MATTER, RIGHT??? that is the mantra of the Republican Party. Borrow and Spend, Borrow and Spend, Borrow and spend.

There is absolutely ZERO evidence that Republicans are good fiscal managers. ZERO. What a bunch of hypocrites.

Road Scholar

February 12th, 2011
11:26 am

real john: “…if you are so concerned with the debt”

There are two variables in the debt/surplus equation and revenue is one of them! So if you reduce revenue, the deficit increases! Trickle down? How about ‘trickle up poverty”?

Red Hammer: You are sooooo intelligent with your name calling; I bet your momma is sooo proud! Bless your heart. You can’t remember that Bush was in office fo 8 years, let alone of the promises made by the repubs.

MrLiberty

February 12th, 2011
12:05 pm

Only Ron Paul has ever shown the principled consistency of opposing big government and unconstitutional government. Despite the good intentions of the new crop, the old school losers in the republican party that continue to infest the Congress will work very hard to make their lives miserable unless they vote for the big government programs that keep their big business friens wealthy. Thankfully another Paul is now blessing the Senate with his solid committment to the constitution and both of them keep getting lots of interviews on the main stream media so the american sheeple can finally see what a principled republican is supposed to sound like.

I certainly hope for the best, but the political process has never been used to make people more free, more prosperous, or more secure. Only the free market, absent government interference (not what we currently have) has ever done that.

fred cohen

February 12th, 2011
12:05 pm

Cut to the budget you say? Well alrighty then, how about the elephant in the room..
Get out of Iraq get out of Afghanstan.
Problem solved, let’s move on to other things people.

killerj

February 12th, 2011
12:51 pm

Less Government means more money in your pocket-overbearing,like a gapping hole with no bottom,out of control.Go Tea Party.

Blue Hammer

February 12th, 2011
12:53 pm

“It’s been WEEKS since the Republicans took over the House and gained Senate seats, you mental midget bed wetter. They’ve got a steep hill to climb after FOUR YEARS of job killing by your precious Nanny Pelosi. You start by giving taxpayer WHO PAY TAXES back their money, many of whom OWN BUSINESSES. Tool.”

Conservative crybaby…. Go back to 02/12/2009 and you would have called somebody a crybaby had they said this:

It’s been WEEKS since the Republicans Obama took over the White House and gained Senate seats, you mental midget bed wetter. They’ve got He has a steep hill to climb after FOUR EIGHT YEARS of job killing by your precious Nanny Pelosi W. You start by giving taxpayer(s) WHO PAY TAXES back their money, many of whom OWN BUSINESSES. Tool.

That street runs both ways, kemo sabe!!

Brian

February 12th, 2011
1:28 pm

We have to cut entitlements.