CommunityFDL Main Blog

Republicans Already Scaling Back Budget Cuts

photo: turtlemoon via Flickr

Now this is kind of interesting. Republicans in the House still have the plan to cut $100 billion in discretionary domestic spending in the current fiscal year. That would represent cuts of about 20% in all the areas they haven’t walled off, such as the military, homeland security and veterans.

However, this fiscal year began October 1, magnifying the impact of those cuts, making them as much as 30% in many areas. Basically you’d have to lay off tens of thousands of people. The cuts are so deep, in fact, that Senate Republicans have not agreed to the pledge to return to FY2008 spending in this budget year. So, Roger Cohen of Politico reports, House Republicans are already bargaining, pitching a less severe FY2011, while vowing to pick it up in FY2012, which starts this coming October.

Monday, House Republicans suggested their budget challenge might require a cut of only $50 to $60 billion […]

Comments from both Rep. Paul Ryan and a House Appropriations Committee aide reinforce the GOP commitment to cutting non-defense spending to what they describe as the “pre-bailout, pre-stimulus” levels of Fiscal 2008, even if the figure is smaller.

But the task, in turn, will be made more difficult because nearly half of the fiscal year will be completed by the time Congress acts—assuming the Senate reaches an agreement with the House and Obama signs the spending measure. “The goal of FY11 is to get as close as we can to FY08 spending, given that the year is half done. Going forward, we are headed to FY08 in the FY12 spending bills,” the Appropriations aide said.

In a statement issued last Friday, Ryan acknowledged the challenges that lie ahead. “Congress bases its budget levels on Congressional Budget Office estimates and projections. We will not get CBO’s revised baseline projections until the end of January. When we get those projections, as outlined in the House Republicans’ Pledge to America, I plan to file a discretionary spending limit that would take non-security spending back to its pre-bailout, pre-stimulus spending levels.”

I wouldn’t characterize $50-60 billion using the word “only.” That would cancel out entirely the doubling of the outlay from using the payroll tax cut, as opposed to the Making Work Pay tax credit, in 2011. It’s more of a recognition that to be successful – particularly with Republican colleagues in the Senate – the GOP House will have to go in stages. The goal appears the same, to get down to 2008 levels of spending. And of course, they will have the expiration of the continuing resolution two months from today, and the debt limit vote, as leverage points.

These spending cuts, even at the $50-60 billion level, will come out of things like education, grants to local law enforcement, the National Institutes of Health, transportation and other popular programs in individual districts. They’ve concentrated their focus on the nonsecurity discretionary parts of the budget, meaning these cuts would have a tremendous impact and not in any way be limited to waste. I think the pull-back, a cut in half before the budget document even gets assembled, reflects that.

Meanwhile, on the defense side, Robert Gates is putting together $100 billion in cuts of his own, not annual cuts but over a long-term period, to pre-empt any talk of serious defense spending cuts. Republicans, of course, have taken defense completely off the menu, but there’s enough pressure on that spending – for the first time in years – to rouse Gates to pre-empt it.

It’s somewhat comforting that the first Republican shot across the bow is already smaller than expected, but in the long game, they’re still looking to cut back significantly at a time of a jobs crisis.

CommunityThe Bullpen

Republicans Already Scaling Back Budget Cuts

Now this is kind of interesting. Republicans in the House still have the plan to cut $100 billion in discretionary domestic spending in the current fiscal year. That would represent cuts of about 20% in all the areas they haven’t walled off, such as the military, homeland security and veterans.

However, this fiscal year began October 1, magnifying the impact of those cuts, making them as much as 30% in many areas. Basically you’d have to lay off tens of thousands of people. The cuts are so deep, in fact, that Senate Republicans have not agreed to the pledge to return to FY2008 spending in this budget year. So, Roger Cohen of Politico reports, House Republicans are already bargaining, pitching a less severe FY2011, while vowing to pick it up in FY2012, which starts this coming October.

Monday, House Republicans suggested their budget challenge might require a cut of only $50 to $60 billion […]

Comments from both Rep. Paul Ryan and a House Appropriations Committee aide reinforce the GOP commitment to cutting non-defense spending to what they describe as the “pre-bailout, pre-stimulus” levels of Fiscal 2008, even if the figure is smaller.

But the task, in turn, will be made more difficult because nearly half of the fiscal year will be completed by the time Congress acts—assuming the Senate reaches an agreement with the House and Obama signs the spending measure. “The goal of FY11 is to get as close as we can to FY08 spending, given that the year is half done. Going forward, we are headed to FY08 in the FY12 spending bills,” the Appropriations aide said.

In a statement issued last Friday, Ryan acknowledged the challenges that lie ahead. “Congress bases its budget levels on Congressional Budget Office estimates and projections. We will not get CBO’s revised baseline projections until the end of January. When we get those projections, as outlined in the House Republicans’ Pledge to America, I plan to file a discretionary spending limit that would take non-security spending back to its pre-bailout, pre-stimulus spending levels.”

I wouldn’t characterize $50-60 billion using the word “only.” That would cancel out entirely the doubling of the outlay from using the payroll tax cut, as opposed to the Making Work Pay tax credit, in 2011. It’s more of a recognition that to be successful – particularly with Republican colleagues in the Senate – the GOP House will have to go in stages. The goal appears the same, to get down to 2008 levels of spending. And of course, they will have the expiration of the continuing resolution two months from today, and the debt limit vote, as leverage points.

These spending cuts, even at the $50-60 billion level, will come out of things like education, grants to local law enforcement, the National Institutes of Health, transportation and other popular programs in individual districts. They’ve concentrated their focus on the nonsecurity discretionary parts of the budget, meaning these cuts would have a tremendous impact and not in any way be limited to waste. I think the pull-back, a cut in half before the budget document even gets assembled, reflects that.

Meanwhile, on the defense side, Robert Gates is putting together $100 billion in cuts of his own, not annual cuts but over a long-term period, to pre-empt any talk of serious defense spending cuts. Republicans, of course, have taken defense completely off the menu, but there’s enough pressure on that spending – for the first time in years – to rouse Gates to pre-empt it.

It’s somewhat comforting that the first Republican shot across the bow is already smaller than expected, but in the long game, they’re still looking to cut back significantly at a time of a jobs crisis.

Previous post

New Edition of Huckleberry Finn to Censor "N" Word, Replace with "Slave"

Next post

Rev. Eddie Long will not fight charges of sexual coercion, will try to mediate instead

David Dayen

David Dayen