Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 20, 2011

REPUBLICAN STUDY COMMITTEE LAYS DOWN A RADICAL 'MARKER' ON SPENDING.... The new House GOP majority suffered some embarrassment a couple of weeks ago when party leaders backed off a promise to cut $100 billion from the budget in their first year.

This week, a leading right-wing contingent within the Republican caucus is pushing hard in the other direction.

A caucus of conservative Republicans unveiled a proposal on Thursday that would trim federal spending by $2.5 trillion over 10 years.

Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said Thursday that the RSC will be using the plan as a "marker" in the fight over the continuing resolution that will fund the government after March 4. [...]

Jordan said he has not talked to his party's leadership about moving the bill, but House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Thursday he supports the plan being brought up for a separate up-or-down vote during floor consideration of the continuing resolution for the rest of 2011.

The Republican Study Committee has quite a laundry list in mind. These folks actually map out cutting $2.5 trillion from the budget without touching Social Security, Medicare, or even a single penny of Pentagon spending.

To get there, these Republicans would go after plenty of familiar targets: the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Endowment for the Arts, Amtrak, and U.S. Agency for International Development. But given that the U.S. just doesn't spend that much on any of this, the Republican Study Committee has to dig much deeper, going after transportation and infrastructure projects, energy research, aid to states, legal assistance for low-income families, family planning funds, and assistance to American businesses seeking to export their products overseas.

(Even this doesn't come close to $2.5 trillion over 10 years. The RSC makes up the difference by playing some budget games. Brian Beutler explained, "Like most major spending cut proposals, this one's not entirely rigorous. It relies principally on an aspirational spending cap -- specifically, limiting non-defense appropriations totals to their 2006 levels without adjusting for inflation. In other words, it punts the question of what to cut to future Congresses, which could just as easily bust the cap.")

All of these cuts are necessary, the Republican Study Committee believes, because large deficits call for broad sacrifices. This is, of course, the same Republican Study Committee that demanded massive tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, without paying for them, all of which was financed by larger deficits.

The likelihood of these cuts actually passing is non-existent, but it is a helpful snapshot of Republican priorities. But also note perhaps the most important detail about a plan such as this one: it would be devastating for American jobs. Indeed, if lawmakers were to get together to plot how Congress could deliberately increase unemployment, their plan would look an awful lot like this one. The RSC proposal would deliberately fire thousands of civilian workers, force states to make sweeping job cuts, and lay off thousands more who work in transportation and infrastructure.

Instead of working on creating jobs, we're left with a new House majority that either (a) wants to ignore the problem; or (b) wants to deliberately make it worse. For all the Republican excitement about the midterm results, I suspect the GOP just wasn't listening very closely to what Americans said they're concerned about most.

Steve Benen 3:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (25)

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Comments

I love it. You can paint a big fat bullseye on this guys for 2012. Maybe Sister Sarah can help with the artwork. Republican infighting in the House could bring down the whole circus tent and thin the ranks of these ridiculous deadbeats so we can get back to addressing the nation's real problems.

Posted by: max on January 20, 2011 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

The likelihood of these cuts actually passing is non-existent

Which Republicans are going to defect to get the spending bills through the House? It's not like health care--they don't have to pass a repeal.

Posted by: rea on January 20, 2011 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

I think this is an important exercise. I would think that Democrats would relish the opportunity to defend some of these programs. Others they shouldn't mind cutting, but should expect Republicans to defend. What about the ag bill? We should also be asking why the defense budget is totally off the table as well as why we can't raise at least some revenues. After all Gates has been calling for cuts in the Defense Budget for a long time, not just since Obama was elected, and has had to watch as pet projects have been shoved down his throat.

It is time Republicans became aware of the old axiom "beware what you wish for." We shouldn't be defensive. Instead we should be out front.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 20, 2011 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

My plan is to limit non-defense appropriations totals to their 1976 levels, without adjusting for inflation. This plan cuts spending by trillions more than the GOP plan but is no less specific and has the same chance of passing. See how easy it is to reduce the debt?

Posted by: KenS on January 20, 2011 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

"All of these cuts are necessary, the Republican Study Committee believes, because large deficits call for broad sacrifices."

Yeah, right. My taxes have actually gone up this year, so I'm going to put my fingers in my ears and go "blah blah blah" until somebody talks about raising taxes on the rich (which may mean they have to sacrifice that vacation house in France) in order to deal with the deficit. Until then, they can go Dick Cheney themselves.

Posted by: delNorte on January 20, 2011 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

KenS beat me to it. Why 2006? Why not 2000, or 1980, the start of the St. Ronald Revolution.

Posted by: Tigershark on January 20, 2011 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's naive to assume that Republicans will be punished at the polls for threatening to cut, or actually cutting, popular programs and doing harm to the economy, or that the Democrats will be rewarded for trying to stop them. Voting seems increasingly disconnected from policy, by which I mean even moreso than it had been. The Republicans can slash Medicare and Social Security, throw us into a depression, and the voters are just as likely as not to give them the senate in order to show the Democrats who's boss, or something.

Posted by: Mark on January 20, 2011 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

They're Republicans. From their perspective, you only have a government for two reasons:

Blowing up brown people and their stuff.
Providing their friends' getaway cars with police escorts.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on January 20, 2011 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

These guys are crazy if they think cutting everything that is useful for the people is going to win them brownie points with voters. What, suddenly, no roads and no construction jobs? What, suddenly no safe bridges? What, no new energy research? And what, no help for American businesses to export their goods (doubly so, since, let's face it, USAID is really just a way to get other countries to buy our stuff too)?

Who is their constituency on this? Wall Street bankers who want EVERY DIME we pay in taxes to go directly to them? Who? I don't see it.

Posted by: jjm on January 20, 2011 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats ought to mention the Minneapolis bridge collapse and other infrastructure failures like that early and often.

Posted by: T-Rex on January 20, 2011 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

One of the most important checks on the seriousness and credibility of these GOPers is: will they cut military spending and corporate welfare (subsidies etc)? If not (DHYB), then of course they aren't.

Posted by: neil b on January 20, 2011 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

--Who is their constituency on this? Wall Street bankers who want EVERY DIME we pay in taxes to go directly to them? Who? I don't see it.--

Every dime we pay already goes to them. You can ask the current POTUS and his pals. Nothing new here and no lib will ever admit that.

Posted by: Bagman on January 20, 2011 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

The Number One Priority is getting re-elected. And everything they say is in support of that goal.

Posted by: DAY on January 20, 2011 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

The Number One Priority is getting re-elected. And everything they say is in support of that goal.

___

Indeed:

"White House officials tell ABC News that President Obama is closing the political office of the White House as he re-tools and prepares for the 2012 re-election campaign."

Posted by: Gitmo on January 20, 2011 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

I work on a government program that didn't exist in 2006. I know hundreds -- possibly thousands -- of people on the same program. I expect there are many programs like mine. How many millions of people will this proposal put out of a job?

Posted by: Remus Shepherd on January 20, 2011 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Cool, Republicans. Just undo every unfunded insanity that you enacted from 2001-2009, and we'll be fine. Just restore things as they were on inauguration day in 2001; we'll take it from there.

Posted by: Churchyard on January 20, 2011 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

One really does wonder where the line between "governing like morons due to bad ideology" and "deliberately committing treason via destroying the country" is...

Posted by: Matt on January 20, 2011 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

What I would do if I were the Democrats is that I would ask CBO to score these cuts and ask them how would this affect the U.S. economy and jobs.

How many jobs would be lost if we did these cuts?

Posted by: Maritza on January 20, 2011 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

At first these jokers' rhetoric promoted the failure of President Obama. Now, their rhetoric has in its sights the failure of the entire nation we so belovedly call, USA, USA, USA!

Why do the duly elected Congressional representatives hate all non-wealthy Americans who may not have voted for them, and, how can I tell such hate?

Just look at the policy proposals, and the conclusion is easily discovered - policies that would evenly spread the burden of taxes throughout our society, and spending priorities that would help the majority of our middle class, seem to be beyond the imagination of Tea Partying Congressional Republicans.

All they can think of, seemingly, is how to continue the redistribution of wealth upward! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on January 20, 2011 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

All they can think of, seemingly, is how to continue the redistribution of wealth upward! -Kevo

Can't imagine where they got that idea?! BTW, will you be at the SFO meeting this year? Nice place it was at in 2008...

Posted by: Richie Rich on January 20, 2011 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

it is a helpful snapshot of Republican priorities.

Is it? Or is it just out there so this group can seem fiscally responsible, without the risk of goring any American's ox in real life because everyone knows the proposal can't pass?

Posted by: Steve M. on January 20, 2011 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

It seems like just yesterday that some were complaining 100 billion was all talk. I can hear the whining tomorrow when the affected groups fear that they are being pulled away from the government teat.

Posted by: john on January 20, 2011 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

Hilarious. This is a total smokescreen.

They produce a huge list of cuts just to obscure the fact that 91.6% of the cuts (2.19 Billion out of 2.5 Billion) is "we'll get back to you on that" cuts. Basically, they're promising to cut spending even more starting in 2012, but with no specifics provided.

It's also worth noting that even this spending level still leads to a net increase in the deficit given current tax levels, unless the economy starts growing a LOT faster.

Posted by: doktarr on January 20, 2011 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

What, suddenly no safe bridges?

What do you mean, suddenly?

Posted by: Gregory on January 21, 2011 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

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