House GOP back on same page on spending cuts

posted at 10:10 am on February 11, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

After a fumbling start, the House GOP appears back on track to achieve one of its signature promises from the midterm Pledge to America.  The caucus has agreed to a much larger round of budget cuts, spread across the next twelve months, than first proposed — and then withdrawn after a revolt by the Republican freshmen:

House Republicans emerged from an emergency meeting about the budget Thursday night sounding unified around a newfangled stop-gap spending measure that would achieve cuts of $100 billion.

Freshmen, once again, were the driving force that sent the GOP leadership to head back to the drawing board for deeper slashes to spending just a month into their majority.

The newly elected lawmakers wanted what GOP leadership assured: $100 billion in cuts, now. Not prorated over the remainder of the fiscal year. House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Thursday night in the basement of the Capitol that the cuts Republicans are proposing would equal $170 billion over 12 months, instead of the seven months covered by the CR.

Round One goes to the Tea Party and the freshman class.  After the rather anemic proposal to cut $32 billion in the upcoming continuing resolution, the new Republicans on Capitol Hill balked, and activists and conservative commentators questioned how Republicans could solve a $1.5 trillion deficit without finding the courage to cut the promised $100 billion from their first budget process.  Their defenders pointed out that the CR only covers half a year, and that the Pledge referred to the FY2012 budget, which at the time was presumed to be the first budget House Republicans could control.  This agreement shows that the hurdle to get to $100 million up front was not as high as those defenders argued.

Next, the Senate has to pass the bill, and that may mean trouble for these cuts.  While Democrats in red states may hear footsteps and be inclined to support some cuts, Harry Reid is going to do his best to water down any sense of victory the GOP can claim.  Even though it seems unlikely now that Barack Obama will veto a CR with these cuts — after all, he has just proposed cutting the poverty program LIHEAP by over 30%, down to its 2008 level — Reid will do his best to restore as much of the funding as possible.

That will make a conference commmittee very interesting — as well as which members of the House get assigned to it.  Will they be the freshman and other Tea Party supporters, or the wise old hands that thought $32 billion was as much as they could cut?

Update: I meant to write “twelve months” in the subheader, not “two.”


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If the house holds fast the scared dims will fold.

Col.John Wm. Reed on February 11, 2011 at 10:13 AM

This is a critical time for folks to call their Congress-critters! If we can’t get the ball rolling on reducing government now, we may never see more than some lukewarm token cuts and promises in the future.

MJBrutus on February 11, 2011 at 10:15 AM

Next, the Senate has to pass the bill, and that may mean trouble for these cuts. While Democrats in red states may hear footsteps and be inclined to support some cuts, Harry Reid is going to do his best to water down any sense of victory the GOP can claim. Even though it seems unlikely now that Barack Obama will veto a CR with these cuts — after all, he has just proposed cutting the poverty program LIHEAP by over 30%, down to its 2008 level — Reid will do his best to restore as much of the funding as possible.

That’s ok. Hell, if anything that should make it easier for the House GOP to make serious cuts. If/when the Senate or Obama puts a stop to them, the GOP can use that against them in 2012.

We’re on pace for a $1.5 trillion deficit this year. If Obama and Reid stand in the way of dealing with it, they’ll be held accountable.

Doughboy on February 11, 2011 at 10:15 AM

Way to go freshmen
Harry doesn’t scare them

cmsinaz on February 11, 2011 at 10:17 AM

Go ahead Harry and Barry, try to oppose the cuts and/or veto it. The American public won’t stand for it.

WisRich on February 11, 2011 at 10:17 AM

This proves how unnecessary complex, nuanced, strategic negotiations are if one has principles, and the spine to stick to them.

pugwriter on February 11, 2011 at 10:19 AM

If the GOP had one lick of sense they would have put out a balanced budget-cutting over a trillion- and forced the Democrat led senate to be the ones calling for spending more money than we have. That is how you can “compromise” when you control funding.

But no, they will tuck tail and cower, agree to raise the debt limit “just one more time” and get kicked to the curb yet again.

Mord on February 11, 2011 at 10:20 AM

thats a good start… now toss in across the board reductions, structural reductions in entitlements, and then we’ll have the beginnings of real reform.

i’m not holding my breath – these guys are all drunk on power and spending, though it is nice to see some fresh blood shaking things up

gatorboy on February 11, 2011 at 10:21 AM

Took some whining,across the RightSphere Front,
but,they got the message!

canopfor on February 11, 2011 at 10:21 AM

her anemic proposal to cut $32 billion

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought that this was a mere reduction of 32 million over Obama’s proposed increases. And if that is so, how much, if any, of this 32 million was an actual cut? We need to stop calling reductions in increases that are still increases “cuts”. Cuts are cuts in the previous year’s budget ONLY.

besser tot als rot on February 11, 2011 at 10:22 AM

That will make a conference commmittee very interesting — as well as which members of the House get assigned to it. Will they be the freshman and other Tea Party supporters, or the wise old hands that thought $32 billion was as much as they could cut?

Can one senator object to conference committee, as DeMint did with Obamacare? Is there some kind of override to the objection? (With Obamcare, McConnell appeared to be fine with DeMint’s objection.) There was no budget, so budget reconciliation is not available.

If a senator can object, does the House play chicken with Harry?

Wethal on February 11, 2011 at 10:23 AM

Over at townhall Hugh is all worked up because he says this wasn’t the promise at all. He says the promise was to stop the stimulus money that hasn’t been spent yet and then to put spending back to 2008 levels across the board. That was what was going to be the 100 billion cut. And when they get to $100 billion some other way they aren’t keeping the promise at all.

I don’t know what’s up with it. I just want cuts and responsible small government.

But I’m not sure everyone is talking about the same promise.

petunia on February 11, 2011 at 10:24 AM

Also, about this $100 billion in “cuts” – are these cuts over the 2010 budget, or over the increases that are supposed to happen this year?

(and I mean 32 billion in my previous post, obviously)

besser tot als rot on February 11, 2011 at 10:24 AM

This agreement shows that the hurdle to get to $100 million up front was not as high as those defenders argued.
Ed – Is that supposed to be million or billion?

News2Use on February 11, 2011 at 10:27 AM

sounds like we need to continue to send in new blood until there is enough people in office that get the message: stop spending more than we have.

search4truth on February 11, 2011 at 10:28 AM

Here is a graph of Obama’s proposed budget cuts. He’s really taking this debt thing serious. /s

mizflame98 on February 11, 2011 at 10:34 AM

I just cannot believe Harry got re-elected honestly…

Doesn’t compute… :/

golfmann on February 11, 2011 at 10:43 AM

This is all a lot of b.s. Cut the whole budget by 15 percent. The Republican leadership is falling on its face with this one. Why do we need all of our troops in NATO when the countries don’t want us? Chop it in half. Tell the Joint Chiefs of Staff to go in a room and not come out until they have reduced the Defense Budget by 15 percent. The same holds true for every cabinet secretary. Obama has destroyed our country with his Marxist/Socialist policies. This is our chance to stick it up his keister.

Big Nicholas on February 11, 2011 at 10:48 AM

Concur… Just cut the budget 10% across the board for starters…

We simply cannot afford to continue to tack on trillions of dollars of debt… It is unsustainable…

Khun Joe on February 11, 2011 at 11:01 AM

Took some whining,across the RightSphere Front,
but,they got the message!

canopfor on February 11, 2011 at 10:21 AM

Disagree. It took a crackdown. Nobody whined – they just voted against.

fossten on February 11, 2011 at 11:09 AM

I agree with Big Nicholas – cut everything by a certain
percentage – 15% may be too high – how about starting with 8-10%, then increasing it by 1% annually until it tops out at 15%.

If our government takes in 2T annually, then why not
put aside funds (10%) to pay down our debt, then stage the budget
according to our means? No tax increases.

However, going back to the 100 billion in cuts, does
anyone know exactly what the descriptions of the savings
are? For instance – the name of the expense, the budget
for the past 5 years – the amount now and the savings.
All in columns so it is reasy to read. Is this posted
somewhere?

Amjean on February 11, 2011 at 11:11 AM

Feet meet fire. If they don’t perform as promised, they will be gone, and no smoke and mirror budget gimmicks, either!

Kissmygrits on February 11, 2011 at 11:28 AM

This is a solid rebuke to Nanzi whose latest sound bite was that “it isn’t that easy to reduce spending… blah blah blah.” Shut up, Nanzi, and resign!
.
Keep cutting, TEA Partiers!

ExpressoBold on February 11, 2011 at 11:35 AM

In my view, here is how federal spending should have been set up to work:
1) President submits budget/spending request to Congress
2) The House takes an up or down vote on entire request
3) If vote fails, the House separates items out of request an votes on them individually.
4) Items passed by the house are sent to the Senate for an up or down vote. Passed items are payed for by treasury, not passed items are sent back to House
5) Any additional spending not requested by the President must be passed by a 2/3 majority in the house and then passed by the Senate.
6) Except for the payment of treasury bonds, no commitment can be made to spend money out of future fiscal years: all planned payments must come out of the budget of the fiscal year considered when they are passed.

Count to 10 on February 11, 2011 at 11:42 AM

Why can’t they just put the departments back on the 2008 budget? Why is this so hard?

karenhasfreedom on February 11, 2011 at 1:20 PM

The numbers just aren’t adding up for me. As I understand it, if we cut every penny of discretionary spending, we’d still be in deficit. Do I have this right?

If that’s the case, then the only way to get back in the black would be to cut (and I mean cut, not reduce the size of the increase) entitlement spending. Still with me?

Now, how did we get here? Has the govt “take” been this drastically reduced? When and how big was this reduction? Correct me if I’m wrong, but the timeline seems to be tied directly to the last presidential election. Not saying there is causation there, just trying to understand the time frame.

If it’s been over 2 years since the govt started facing hugely reduced revenues, and institutional overspending is written into law, and this situation will continue until at least January 2013, 100 billion ain’t gonna make one damn bit of difference.

I’ve run the numbers. Given everything above, there is no way we will ever get out from under this debt. We will never even reduce it. Not by one penny. The leftists have completed the destruction of the world’s foremost economy, and they did it with our blessing. All we’re waiting for now is for the rest of the country, and world, to figure it out.

runawayyyy on February 11, 2011 at 3:17 PM

About time they finally start listening to those of us so animated to elect them into office. As anyone who has bartered (sold a house being the biggest) knows, one side starts high, the other counters low. If there is a deal to be make (and the participants are acting in good faith), the cost will be somewhere in between. Good for the GOP to actually bump up the number to where conference negotiations allow them to get closer to their promises.

bains on February 11, 2011 at 5:46 PM

Concur… Just cut the budget 10% across the board for starters…

We simply cannot afford to continue to tack on trillions of dollars of debt… It is unsustainable…

Khun Joe on February 11, 2011 at 11:01 AM

Wrong answer.

The only solution is for massive cuts or elimination to ALL entitlements programs.

Even if you eliminate every other department or agency and just keep the entitlement programs and not make any changes to it, we’d STILL be in debt.

Cut or eliminate entitlement programs and then we can talk about making cuts to other programs.

Conservative Samizdat on February 11, 2011 at 9:09 PM

The only thing we must cut or eliminate is entitlement spending. Its the single and biggest reason of why we’re in debt.

Conservative Samizdat on February 11, 2011 at 10:58 PM