Conservative Republicans Target $2.5 Trillion in Federal Budget Cuts

BY Quinn Bowman  January 20, 2011 at 3:47 PM EST

Rep. Jim Jordan
Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; Getty Images file photo

Members of the Republican Study Committee, the conservative caucus among House Republicans, unveiled Thursday the Spending Reduction Act of 2011, a sweeping list of spending cuts the group says could trim $2.5 trillion from the federal budget over 10 years.

These cuts would be predominantly from a limit on discretionary spending — money spent by Congress that is not for entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid — to the 2006 spending level for the next 10 years. By also eliminating automatic increases in spending to account for inflation, the RSC estimates the government’s savings would total $2.29 trillion.

The proposal also calls for replacing money allocated for fiscal year 2011 with fiscal year 2008 levels, not counting 2011 spending on defense, homeland security and veterans, in order to save $80 billion. During the fall campaign, Republican leaders, including new House Speaker John Boehner, pledged to make $100 billion in cuts in this category.

The rest of savings come from returning unspent stimulus money, eliminating automatic pay increases for civilian federal workers and cutting $330 billion worth of federal programs, including subsidies for Amtrak, eliminating the U.S. Agency for International Development, eliminating administrative costs for President Obama’s health care reforms and eliminating the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which helps fund PBS and the NewsHour.

The proposal was laid out by RSC Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who was joined by other members of the committee, including three freshman House Republicans.
“In my time in public life I’ve never seen American people more receptive and more ready for the tough love measures that need to be taken to help fix the country,” Jordan said. “The (fiscal) situation is so bad, everything needs to be on the table.”

Responding to questions on whether his proposal has a chance in a Senate controlled by Democrats, Jordan said he wants the process to play out and that it might be possible for Democratic senators to “see the light and find Jesus” on reducing spending.

Cutting government spending was a major theme of the successful Republican campaign to regain control of the House of Representatives, and this RSC proposal is the first proposal from Republicans on what exactly should be cut.

The RSC proposal is likely to be the most conservative proposal laid out by Republicans. Jordan would not say whether his committee’s act would come up for a vote, and said that he had not spoken to leadership about the issue.

Real spending decisions from the House side will likely originate with Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who has already been given, courtesy of the House Rules Committee, the power to set spending limits on his own for the next budget.

The House Rules Committee voted along party lines Wednesday to hold a vote next Tuesday, the day of the State of the Union address, that will force members to stake a position on whether Ryan should be able to limit the rest of 2011 spending to 2008 levels or even lower, the Hill reports.

While Ryan’s committee will set a spending limit, the Appropriations Committee decides how it will be spent.