Republicans stress the need to reduce the size of the federal
government and tackle the nation's mounting debt, but they've been
criticized for evading the thorny question of which specific programs
they would cut to realize their goals. Today, we have at least one
The Republican Study Committee--a conservative caucus that includes more than two-thirds of House Republicans--has
to reduce federal spending by $2.5 trillion over the next
ten years without touching the military, Medicare, or Social Security,
at least for now. The Spending Reduction Act of 2011 calls
for the government to slash non-security discretionary spending to 2006
levels in 2012 and freeze spending thereafter, while reducing the
federal workforce by 15 percent and canceling pay raises for federal
workers for five years. Other proposals--and accompanying annual
- Withdrawing stimulus funds that have yet to be dispensed ($45 billion in total savings)
- Privatizing the government-backed mortgage providers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ($30 billion in total savings)
- Terminating inter-city and high-speed rail grants ($2.5 billion in annual savings)
- Eliminating Amtrak subsidies ($1.565 billion in annual savings)
- Ending funding for the administration of President Obama's healthcare reform program ($900 million in total savings)
How are commentators reacting?
- A Good Start, But Spending Freezes Are Tough, says
The American Spectator's Philip Klein: "The problem with relying on
spending freezes is that you still have to figure out down the road
where the actual savings are coming from, especially as time goes by
and inflation makes it more challenging to meet those annual spending
targets." But Klein adds that he doesn't see anything
in the RSC's list "that would not be worthwhile to cut."
- Proposal Doesn't Go Far Enough, argues
Reason's Nick Gillespie, libertarian: "As long as GOP reps refuse to put
entitlements and defense spending on the table, they're hunting rabbits
rather than buffaloes."
- Conservatives Are Still Being Cagey, states
liberal David Dayen at FireDogLake: Dayen notes that only $330 billion of the
RSC's cuts name a specific source. "Again," he laments, "Democrats
trying to argue with this document are left to largely chase phantoms."
- This Is a Massive Anti-Stimulus, argues
David Roberts at Grist: "Tens of thousands of jobs would be lost,
though of course Republicans don't acknowledge that, because in their
worldview it is Revealed Truth that, as [RSC Chairman Jim] Jordan put it,
'if you reduce federal government spending, you actually create jobs.'"
the legislation as "a laundry list of targets conservatives have been
after for decades, most of which will make no appreciable difference to
the nation's fiscal health."
- Is This Revenge for NPR's Firing of Juan Williams? wonders
Dave Weigel at Slate, pointing to the RSC's proposals to cut, each
year, $445 million from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, $167.5
million from the National Endowment for the Arts, and $167.5 million
from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
- Proposal Won't Pass, But Provides Insight, claims
David M. Herszenhorn at The New York Times: The Democratic-controlled
Senate and the White House are unlikely to approve of the cuts, he
explains, and some experts believe the proposal is "untenable" because
it would "cut much of the federal government nearly in half by 2020"
and threaten the very existence of entities like Amtrak. But the
legislation also "offers the clearest picture yet of the cuts
envisioned by Republicans" and exemplifies the pressure the GOP is
feeling from the right that threatens "to complicate the battle with
the Obama administration and to set unrealistic expectations among
grass-roots conservatives eager to scale back government."