Report: House GOP backing away from promise to cut $100 billion in spending this year?

posted at 8:23 pm on January 4, 2011 by Allahpundit

Their excuse will be that the fiscal year, which began on October 1, will already be almost half over by the time the budgetary resolution that was passed during the lame duck runs out in March. That means they’ll only have seven months to work with this fiscal year; when they said they’d cut $100 billion, they meant the first full fiscal year that they’re in charge. But wait, you say! Shouldn’t it be fairly easy to find $100 billion to cut in an annual budget that exceeds $3.5 trillion? Well, yes — except that the GOP’s limiting itself to cutting discretionary spending (Social Security and Medicare are, as ever, completely off-limits) and even within discretionary spending they refuse to touch “security” budgets, i.e. Defense and Homeland Security. That leaves just $500 billion or so for this year to play with, and since, as Rich Lowry noted earlier at the Corner, a good chunk of that will already have been spent by the time the continuing resolution expires in the spring, they’d have to make huge cuts to what’s left in order to get to $100 billion in savings overall.

The point to ponder here, I think, is that even the highly touted $100 billion figure is just a small fraction of last year’s deficit. Even with a tea-party Congress, even with a gigantic pool of expenditures to cut from, political reality is such that not only can’t they reach that modest, largely symbolic target in seven months, they’ll actually have to move heaven and earth during the next full fiscal year to get Obama and the Senate Democrats to agree to it. This is what we’ve been reduced to — the suspense of wondering whether the new Republican majority can achieve cuts that will barely make a dent in our annual budget shortfall. Hugely depressing.

Now aides say that the $100 billion figure was hypothetical, and that the objective is to get annual spending for programs other than those for the military, veterans and domestic 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 , 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 the midterm elections, in which he said, “We’re ready to cut spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, saving roughly $100 billion almost immediately.”…

On Tuesday, aides to Mr. Ryan and Mr. Boehner blamed Democrats’ failure to pass the regular appropriations bills for fiscal year 2011 for forcing Republicans to reduce their goal to perhaps $50 billion to $60 billion.

Actually, maybe I have the spin here wrong. I thought the excuse would be “we don’t have enough time to cut that much this year,” but that bit about $100 billion being “hypothetical” makes me wonder if they’re prepared to back away from it next year too. They wouldn’t dare do that with tea partiers watching them anxiously. Would they? Brian Riedl, the lead budget analyst for the Heritage Foundation, told Newsmax in November, “The Republican leadership has committed to this $100 billion cut… I expect them to do everything in their power to enact it. They’re on the record, they ran on this, and if it’s brushed aside there would be harsh political consequences.” Well, they’re sort of brushing it aside now, albeit with the caveat that they won’t have a full year yet to live up to their promise. (Never mind the fact, noted by the Times, that having less than a full fiscal year to deliver was entirely foreseeable when they were touting the $100 billion number.) Are there political consequences for that?

In fact, according to The Hill, not only can’t they find enough cuts to hit the $100 billion target before the fiscal year runs out, they might not even have time before March to put together the 12 different appropriations bills they’d need to make targeted cuts. There are “only” 43 legislative days before then, only 23 of which are scheduled to be spent in session; the House could, as an alternative, pass a continuing resolution of its own cutting spending for the rest of the year by $100 billion and leaving it to Obama to figure out where the cuts should come from, but that’ll almost certainly never pass the Senate. Exit question: What now?


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The best way to cure the Federal deficit problem is to de-certify the Federal Reserve as the US central bank, just like Andrew Jackson did with the Second Bank of the United States.

If they can’t print it, they can’t spend it.

Emperor Norton on January 5, 2011 at 4:49 AM

I think we’ve reached a point that no politician who wants to fix the problem can. There isn’t enough political clout with half the country getting something from the government. Each side now is moving to avoid blame. That’s the goal. The side that can avoid blame might survive.

DFCtomm on January 5, 2011 at 5:06 AM

We shall see. If the GOP leadership slouches back into Frist-Hastert love of perqs, high Beltway living and the fancy offices with “don’t bother us to change behavior” they will need to be un-elected by Tea Party efforts. Deciding business as usual was preferable is what got Frist and Hastert booted so Boehner and McConnell should take note.

viking01 on January 5, 2011 at 5:34 AM

This entire story just smells of the NYt trying to cause issues.

Where are the videos of any congressional member making these statements?

Freddy on January 5, 2011 at 5:56 AM

The side that can avoid blame might survive.

survive what? Overseeing a bankrupt system with people rioting in the streets?

BacaDog on January 5, 2011 at 6:22 AM

That’s why you choose your words carefully. If the GOP thinks they’ll get anything close to a fair shake in the media, then they deserve the criticism, fair or not. It’s the way it is, it’s the way it’s always been.
The GOP knew this going into the election, and made their case for fiscal responsibility. The American people elected them for that very reason. If they’re comfortable with excuses instead of accomplishments going into the 2012 election season, there’ll be no sympathy from me if the media, the administration and the democrats scream “hypocrite.” It’s politics, their chosen profession.

mossberg500 on January 5, 2011 at 6:26 AM

the media will not help the gop PERIOD…so their actions will need to speak louder than their words to morning joe and tingles…

cmsinaz on January 5, 2011 at 6:34 AM

There are “only” 43 legislative days before then, only 23 of which are scheduled to be spent in session;

ok that does not make sense at all…west was right…congress needs to stay in session to get the work done…crap, let dear leader take his vacations and golf outings, we know he is useless

cmsinaz on January 5, 2011 at 6:36 AM

If they can’t print it, they can’t spend it.

Emperor Norton on January 5, 2011 at 4:49 AM

Exactly why our ‘betters’ wanted and got us off the precious-metal standard for our money. It was one of the things supposed to keep them anchored to the harsh little reality called unlimited wants, limited resources.

Or in other words…the feds can’t whistle up more gold and silver whenever the mood strikes them.

Dark-Star on January 5, 2011 at 6:40 AM

The GOP needs to stop dancing around the edges and go for the freaking throat! Begin a massive advertising campaign with prime time TV commercials, radio commercials, newspaper ads and youtube videos. At the same time slash and burn this freaking debt! Repeal, abolish and repeal! Have the attitude of a surgeon fighting like he@* to save his dying patient! Bring the case to the people! Tell them the truth! Lies are powerful things to combat but the truth can cut through like a hot knife through butter! Act so fast and so quickly and with such determination that the Democrats are in shock!
They’ve got to do it all! Educate and eradicate! We don’t need anymore new laws! We need laws repealed!

JellyToast on January 5, 2011 at 6:46 AM

They’ve got to do it all! Educate and eradicate! We don’t need anymore new laws! We need laws repealed!

JellyToast on January 5, 2011 at 6:46 AM

amen jt

cmsinaz on January 5, 2011 at 6:54 AM

These wormy politicians get themselves elected and the first thing that happens to them is their brains fall out. If this new gaggle forgets their promises then they can start packing right now.

rplat on January 5, 2011 at 8:09 AM

…a good chunk of that will already have been spent by the time the continuing resolution expires in the spring, they’d have to make huge cuts to what’s left in order to get to $100 billion in savings overall.

Fine. Then that’s what you do.

Just. F@#$ing. Do it.

Midas on January 5, 2011 at 8:21 AM

All this proves is that the 111th was the overwhelming
winner for the Worst Congress in the history of the Republic.
There can be no sacred cows, now.
Everything is subject to cuts,
bitter pill though it may be.

OkieDoc on January 5, 2011 at 9:01 AM

Exit question: What now?

Let the Bush tax cuts expire?

Tom_Shipley on January 5, 2011 at 9:03 AM

Fine. Then that’s what you do.
Just. F@#$ing. Do it.

I agree use Obama’s tactics against him…..We Republicans inherited this mess.
;)

philly_PA on January 5, 2011 at 9:05 AM

They had better live up to this promise and more or less all their promises or I’ll be out there with many others to replace them next election cycle with people who will keep their promises.
And it’s ridiculous to stay away from Medicare, etc. What universe are they living in? Disgusting.

lorettawm on January 5, 2011 at 9:08 AM

Everything ACROSS THE BOARD HAS TO BE CUT. YES EVEN DEFENSE, ETC… Balance the freaking budget!

NRA Lifer on January 5, 2011 at 9:27 AM

There are about 3 million civilian Federal workers. At an approximate guesstimate average of $75,000 each, the total annual payroll for these folks is about $225 billion. Let’s cut there, to start.

A 5% across the board cut yields only $10 billion, but it would be a very satisfying $10 billion. Start there.

Move on to the Education Department. Cut it, and save $50 Billion.

Hey Congressman Ryan, does that help?

MTF on January 5, 2011 at 9:37 AM

Well, they’re sort of brushing it aside now, albeit with the caveat that they won’t have a full year yet to live up to their promise.

OK. Cut 50 billion this year, and cut an extra 50 above next year’s target.

There are “only” 43 legislative days before then, only 23 of which are scheduled to be spent in session;

Well wahhh. I’ve worked weekends on and off (more on) virtually all my adult life (over 33 years). It won’t hurt them to do likewise.

tgharris on January 5, 2011 at 10:04 AM

You weren’t holding your breath, were you?

Captain Renault Award® of the Day

MassVictim on January 5, 2011 at 10:05 AM

Exit question: What now?

For them? Do what you were elected to, or get ready to look for a real job in two years.

tgharris on January 5, 2011 at 10:06 AM

WE ARE CUTTING 10 BILLION
FOR SURE
FOR SURE
FOR SURE
WAIT WAIT THAT WAS JUST HYPOTHETICAL BULLSH*T
WE ARE NOT CUTTING 100 BILLION
DO NOT HOLD US TO THE WORDS WE SPOKE

Dave Rywall on January 5, 2011 at 12:43 PM

Dave Rywall on January 5, 2011 at 12:43 PM

Then: “Read my lips: no new taxes.”

Now: “Read my lips: $100 billion in cuts.”

Dark-Star on January 5, 2011 at 1:45 PM

We forgot to send the bottled water.

Slowburn on January 5, 2011 at 3:37 PM

Get these bums the hell out.

Metro on January 6, 2011 at 12:22 AM

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