The GOP Is Clearly Not Serious about Cutting Down Spending

Cato Budget Analyst Tad DeHaven says Republicans still aren't serious about the budget.  This is a major problem.  I don't think it's so much a lack of "courage" as it is a lack of ideas.  Republicans just don't have a vision for how a smaller government could be better, and how to get from here to there through the political process.  DeHaven's points are correct. - Jon Henke

A month ago, President Obama issued a list of proposed spending cuts that I dismissed as “unserious” due to the fact that they were trivial when compared to his proposed spending and debt increases.  Yesterday, the House Republican leadership released a list of proposed spending cuts.

I’d love to say I’m impressed, but I can’t.

Both proposals indicate that neither side of the aisle grasps the severity of the country’s ugly fiscal situation, or at least has the guts to do anything concrete about it.

The GOP proposal claims savings of more than $375 billion over five years, the bulk of which ($317 billion) would come from holding non-defense discretionary spending increases to no more than inflation over the next five years.

First, it should be cut — period.  Second, non-defense discretionary spending only amounts to about 17% of all the money the federal government spends in a year, so singling out this pot of money misses the bigger picture.  At least, defense spending, which is almost entirely discretionary, should be included in any cap.  But it has become an article of faith in the Republican Party that reining in defense spending is tantamount to putting a white flag in the Statue of Liberty’s hand.

The second biggest chunk of savings would come from directing $45 billion in repaid TARP funds to deficit reduction instead of allowing the money to be used for further bailing out.  That’s a sound idea as far it goes, but I can’t help but point out that the signatories to the document, House Republican Leader John Boehner and Minority Whip Eric Cantor, voted for the original $700 billion TARP bailout. Proposing to rescind the Treasury’s power to release the remaining funds, about $300 billion I believe, should have been included.

According to the proposal, the rest of the cuts and savings comes out to around $25 billion over five years.  Like the specific cuts in the president’s proposal, they’re all good cuts.  But the president detailed $17 billion in cuts for one year and I generously called it “measly.”  What am I to call the House Republican leadership specifying $5 billion a year in cuts?

 Take for example, proposed cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which is likely to spend around $65 billion this year.  Having recently spent a couple months analyzing HUD’s past and present, I can state unequivocally that it’s one of the sorriest bureaucracies the world has ever seen.  Yet, the House Republican leadership comes up with only one proposed elimination: a $300,000 a year program that gives “$25,000 stipends for 12 students completing their doctoral dissertation on issues related to housing and urban development.”  The only other proposed cut to HUD would be $1.7 billion over five years to the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.  This notoriously wasteful program is projected to spend over $8 billion this year alone.  Eliminate it!

The spending cuts the country needs must be substantial, serious, and put forward in the spirit of recognizing that the federal government’s role in our lives must be downsized.  Half-measures are not enough, and from the Republican House leadership, wholly insufficient for winning back the support of limited-government voters who have come to associate the GOP with runaway spending and debt.  For a more substantive guide to cutting federal spending, policymakers should start with Cato’s Handbook chapter on the subject.

Tad DeHaven is a budget analyst at The Cato Institute.

C/P Cato@Liberty

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After the past 8 years..

I don't think the statement "The GOP is clearly not serious about cutting down spending" is especially enlightening.

And after the past 4 months

I'd say no one is. Of course by comparison, the GOP looked like tightwads.

 Tad DeHaven's comments are

 Tad DeHaven's comments are correct, and Jon, your introduction to his piece is correct---and this is distressing---but not surprising.

"GOP is clearly not serious about cutting down spending"? CRAP

While I enjoy reading CATO pieces --it's such a fantasy land world for them-- I have to point out that Jon and his LibbieLoon-atic CATO pals get it wrong on more than a few important points. 

First, it isn't the GOP, Jon, as you mark in the headline... it's the House GOP leadership speaking on behalf of the Caucus and responding to a mid-year budget adjustment that the Barack Obama WH put forth in a challenge.  You'd know that if you weren't so bloody quick to dys the GOP --but then, that is job #1 for you most days.  Gheesh, the GOP gets a better and fairer deal from criticism by the House Democrats or the NYTimes than you and your CATO pals.  And that ain't saying much.

Second, GOP Whip Cantor said that these spending cuts had different focus for now and that the ripe time to go after the entire Federal budget and all the pork was during the budget cycle... not now on these mid-cycle spending cuts.

Cantor --one of your LibbieLoon-atic pals*, by the way-- said "What we tried to do was come up with things that really are doable.  It's not like we're going to propose the abolition of the Department of Education."  The WH asked Cantor and the House GOP (note, it's the Caucus in one of the chambers of Congress... we have two chambers in Congress, Jon... and it's an entirely different group of people from... say... oh... maybe the real GOP --namely the RNC and Chairman Steele) to come up with suggestions for additional spending cuts BEYOND what Obama's team proposed in the paltry $100m cuts back in April.

So, to be blunt, you can't even get the right labeling of who is proposing the cuts (House Caucus vs the GOP) nor can you get right that it's a reaction to Obama's challenge --and by that very nature-- would have to be added cuts that would be embraced by Obama's WH.

Kind of like... oh, I don't know... sort of big items on the perspective landscape to miss for someone who appears and projects is well-tuned into Washington, eh Jon?

For the record, maybe you can start HONESTLY reporting what happens in DC and what the GOP does, instead of your usual agenda of making the GOP look weak, timid or MIAs on your LibbieLoon-atic agenda.

It'd be a fresh perspective for you... and one the CATO folks never have embraced.

"I’d love to say I’m impressed, but I can’t" with your analysis or that of CATO, but I can't because I expect factual reporting mixed in with opinion here... not wild-assed, shoot from your hip with the pistol still in the holster... like the piece above.

Like former Atty Gen Elliot Richardson used to say: "Get it right or shut up, will ya?"

Note *, Cantor got an initial 75 rating from the GOP Liberty Caucus and from the John Birch Society (who knew they were different?) and later years a 100 rating from the ACU and the last Club4Greed rating was 82.

Courage of ideas, and reality

Henke writes:

I don't think it's so much a lack of "courage" as it is a lack of ideas. 

I disagree.  This isn't rocket science.  The "ideas", really policy choices, are all on the table.  All those smart people at Cato and the Center for American Progress and such places have thought all the thoughts.

The problem with Republicans it seems to me is that they don't have the courage to stand up for their ideas.  If you want to balance the budget without raising taxes, you have to identify massive spending cuts.  There must be twenty Cato position papers identifying exactly what cuts would be the least painful for Americans.  Take one of those and run on it. 

The larger act of courage from Catoites would be to recognize the reality that voting Americans will not accept those massive cuts.  That's why politicians don't run on them -- they would be defeated.  Propose things that might, with enough backing from courageous politicians, be adopted.  That's much harder than in-your-dreams "ideas" like eliminating the Department of Education or public schools. 

Here are some things Republicans could do to make America better:

  • Cut farm subsidies.
  • Stop sabotabing bipartisan ethics bodies like the Federal Election Commission and the House Ethics Committee.
  • Force Republicans in office to forego earmarks.
  • Limit the filibuster to, say, 10% of all bills or appointments.

 

what about a small piece of many ideas?

what about cutting 10% out of education, ss, farm subsidies, medicare, etc etc. On one hand, you are cutting everything, but on the other hand, you dont have to deal with attacks about how republicans are "getting rid of" a major government program.  they could say they are "streamlining" several programs, and if the cuts are large enough, republicans could say that it would lead to a balanced budget in 5 years (anything longer than 5 years is too far away, in my opinion, to sway people). you combine these reductions with a pledge by all house/senate republicans that they are not taking earmarks until the budget is balanced and you could get real support for that. 

 

But the president detailed

But the president detailed $17 billion in cuts for one year and I generously called it “measly.”  What am I to call the House Republican leadership specifying $5 billion a year in cuts?

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ACORN will get 18 billion...

...now I don't know the particulars, but I just read a post where Barney Frank is adding an amendment to some legislation that says something to the effect, even if non-profit groups are presently under indictment, they still can be eligible to received Stimulus monies. Go figure.

Want to bet our good Republicans are going to support this amendment as well?

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If they are unwilling to filibustor.

Then how can they claim to be serious about anything.

Why they do not control the majority, the minority has been given consideration in allowing them to filibustor. Who knows that an attempt would not bring over a few Democrates, unlikely maybe but if no attempt is made ...

They took a stand under Bush to drill for oil. That was the last stand they have made.

 

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People must now learn that in

People must now learn that in the midst of economic crisis we need to be wise on how we are going to spend our money. Since recession has hit us, lots of people are now struggling hard just to meet their ends. People have become jobless and businesses today are trying hard just to stay on their track. Hummer, the controversial brand that General Motors refused to try and discharge after the price of gasoline began to shoot through the ceiling, has been subject of a lot of headlines.  Hummer was among the first brands that GM slated for culling after the recession began, with Saturn and Pontiac close behind, but unlike other companies that were simply shuttered, Hummer was able to secure a buyer.  It's been announced that Sichuan Tenzhong, or Sichuan Tenzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co will purchase the brand with some quick cash to the rescue.  The company manufactures heavy machinery in China, and this means debt consolidation for Hummer and a good deal for Sichuan Tenzhong.

Both proposals indicate that

Both proposals indicate that neither side of the aisle grasps the severity of the country’s ugly fiscal situation, or at least has the guts to do anything concrete about it.

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I beg to differ. I personally

I beg to differ. I personally think that both the proposals are made taking into consideration the financial situation of the country, and better, they will help the nation to cope better with the situation. GOP is doing a good job here.

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A perfect example of why Republicans are irrelevant

Maybe someone should ask Rep. Cantor why the U.S. needs two big government, big spending, nanny state supporting political parties.  if the elecitons of 2008 showed anything, it showned that if people want big government they will always vote for the Democrats.

Also, every government agency has small business contracting offices, EEO/diversity offices, protocol offices, training offices, historian offices.  If ever department got rid of all of the  hangers-on, then all departments wold be able to cut spending.  Closing unneeded government offices, stopping spending on the kind of pork that Jack Murtha is spreading across Western PA, and cutting back on useless departments such as education would be a good thing.  Cutting agricultural subsidies, medicare/medicaid for illegal aliens, and cutting funding to colleges with low graduation rates would also work.

Of course there is a special interest group that supports every line item in the budget and the Repubicans seem imcapable of either explaining the need for budget cuts or having the courage to face the special interest.

The best lesson to learn is that if Republicans want to really cut the budget then they need to do the work, ask the hard question,, and demand answer on why spending should continue.  I doubt if many Republicans politicians are up to the hard work requried to actually cut the budget.

Tad DeHaven is an expert on

Tad DeHaven is an expert on federal and state budget issues. Previously he was a deputy director of the Indiana Office of Management and Budget and a policy analyst with the National Taxpayers Union.

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A perfect example of why Republicans are irrelevant

Maybe someone should ask Rep. Cantor why the U.S. needs two big government, big spending, nanny state supporting political parties.  if the elecitons of 2008 showed anything, it showned that if people want big government they will always vote for the Democrats.

Also, every government agency has small business contracting offices, EEO/diversity offices, protocol offices, training offices, historian offices.  If ever department got rid of all of the  hangers-on, then all departments wold be able to cut spending.  Closing unneeded government offices, stopping spending on the kind of pork that Jack Murtha is spreading across Western PA, and cutting back on useless departments such as education would be a good thing.  Cutting agricultural subsidies, medicare/medicaid for illegal aliens, and cutting funding to colleges with low graduation rates would also work.

Of course there is a special interest group that supports every line item in the budget and the Repubicans seem imcapable of either explaining the need for budget cuts or having the courage to face the special interest.

The best lesson to learn is that if Republicans want to really cut the budget then they need to do the work, ask the hard question,, and demand answer on why spending should continue.  I doubt if many Republicans politicians are up to the hard work requried to actually cut the budget.

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They don't believe in limited government

The problem is that GOP members don't really believe if limitied government, and really embrace the welfare state. Even more fundamental, they reflect the schizophrenia of voters on this.

Here's a thought: Visualize a balanced budget amendment and strictly honest federal government accounting - no "on budget/off budget" nonsense for starters, and a requirement that implicit liabilities like social security and medicare be prefunded at actuarially sound rates. What would that mean?

Ginormous tax hikes for one thing - no more shuffling the costs of today's spending and today's politicians' promises off on to future generations.

So now that your payroll taxes have doubled and your $40k annual income puts you into a 25 percent income tax bracket, tell me again Joe Sixpack how satisfied you are with this welfare state thingie we've created?

That would change the political landscape, my friends!

Thus, the Brookings scholars

Thus, the Brookings scholars found cuts more than twenty times larger than the House GOP leadership cuts, and Brookings proposed its plan back when the deficit was about one-fifth of the size it is today. (Note that both the Brookings and GOP plans would also put a cap on overall nondefense discretionary spending, in addition to these specific cuts).

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Use Money Wisely....

People get in trouble when they use a payday loan for expenses like paying for a TV or use them to live beyond there current means. People tend to not know the difference between needs and wants. The payday loan debates are nationwide, with several states trying to pass anti-payday loan legislation, and there's even a Federal bill to the same end.  The debate whether to keep the payday loan lenders or not won't subside, but some people don't know the good that cash advance lenders do. For instance, areas in which lenders haven't been driven out Frankenstein style, have lower rates of foreclosure, lower incidents of bankruptcy, and fewer fees assessed for credit card late fees and overdraft fees.  Payday Loans are like an installment loan to the economy.  The detractors don't mention how debt relief efforts will be hindered in the payday loan debates.

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Previously he was a deputy

Previously he was a deputy director of the Indiana Office of Management and Budget and a policy analyst with the National Taxpayers Union. DeHaven also worked as a budget policy advisor to Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Tom Coburn (R-OK). His articles have been published in the Washington Post, Washington Times, and National Review.

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The could start by cutting

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The budget is merely the same

The budget is merely the same old box of rocks in a prettier package to entice the gullible. Tax cuts for the rich, while everyone else is on their own . Auto Glass Repair

Ginormous tax hikes for one

Ginormous tax hikes for one thing - no more shuffling the costs of today's spending and today's politicians' promises off on to future generations.

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