In a Friday night news dump, the Republican leadership in the House finally released their list of spending cuts that will be attached to the continuing resolution to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year. In a statement, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says this resolution would cut spending by at least $100 billion over the final seven months of the fiscal year. But let’s scrutinize that.
The summary of the cuts can be viewed here. You’ll see two columns there. One measures the reduction compared to the enacted Fiscal Year 2010 budget, which the country is operating under right now. The other measures the reduction compared to the Obama Administration Fiscal Year 2011 request, which was never acted upon. So the first column is the only one that actually matters; the second column is in there to make the reductions look bigger than reality and satisfy the hard right.
If you go by The Heritage Foundation’s numbers, the budget would be reduced for discretionary non-security spending by $69 billion below the 2010 level (I think they’re a couple billion high). It would also reduce spending on defense by $16 billion relative to the 2011 Obama request, but actually INCREASE the defense budget relative to the 2010 baseline, I believe by $8-9 billion. So we’re looking at a net reduction of $58-60 billion. Floor action is expected next week, as the full bill was filed last night.
David Rogers has some examples of the trims:
Community development block grants, which had been cut about $530 million on Wednesday, ended down by $2 billion more to settle at $1.5 billion – well below even what was allowed under Ronald Reagan’s administration. The Peace Corps, which had lost $40 million Wednesday, finished down $70 million Friday—a better than 17 percent reduction from its 2010 budget.
Most dramatic, perhaps, was the shift at the expense of Pell Grants for low income college students, a top priority for the administration. The Appropriations leadership appeared to be making a real effort to protect it earlier this week. But the bill filed Friday night saves billions by forcing an $800 cut in the maximum annual grant for a student.
Altogether labor, health and education programs face a $17.4 billion reduction from 2010 funding. Another $15.4 billion would come from housing and transportation programs.
The impact on foreign aid would be severe, raising questions about the State Department’ ability to sustain its increased role in post-war Iraq as well as Afghanistan.
And there are more where that came from. $747 million cut from the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) supplemental nutrition program. $241 million from the FDA. $581 million from state and local law enforcement assistance, and another $500 million from two COPS programs. $285 million from IRS enforcement. $143 million from salaries for the federal judiciary. Around $1.4 billion from FEMA. Around $100 million from OSHA. A $3 billion overall cut to the EPA, and language blocking it from regulating greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. $1 billion from community health centers. $1.083 billion to Head Start. I could go on.
My favorite trims are the “program efficiency reduction due to ACA (aka ObamaCare),” which total well over $400 million. This admits that the health care law created some efficiencies that lead to budget reductions. That’s the law Republicans in the House voted to repeal last month.
Democrats immediately came out and attacked the legislation. “Their policies would harm initiatives that keep us safe and grow our economy, and mean less financial aid for college students and fewer loans for small businesses,” said Harry Reid, adding that any cuts should be reserved for policies like subsidies to Big Oil or unworkable Cold War-era weapons systems. Nancy Pelosi said “Republicans are proposing an irresponsible spending bill that threatens job and economic growth, hampers our global competitiveness, and harms the people hurting most: working families and the middle class.” Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Daniel Inouye said the proposal “would knock the legs out from under our nascent economic recovery, kill jobs, and do virtually nothing to address the long-term fiscal crisis facing our country.” A document passed over by House Democrats gives additional highlights.
· More than 200,000 children kicked out of Head Start and thousands of teachers would lose their jobs
· $800 reduction per student in the maximum Pell Grant award
· 20,000 fewer researchers supported at the National Science Foundation
· $1.4 billion reduction in science and energy research to spur clean energy economy of the future
· $2.5 billion in cuts to the National Institutes of Health, representing a significant setback in cancer and other disease research.
· Rescinds $2.5 billion for high-speed rail projects already awarded
· Loss of 25,000 new construction jobs and the cancellation of 76 projects in 40 states
· $234 million in cuts to improve our nation’s air traffic control system
· 1,330 fewer cops on the beat by eliminating the COPS hiring program
· 2,400 fewer firefighters on the job protecting their communities by eliminating funding for SAFER grants
So the battle begins. And yet, at the exact same time, the President is out there previewing his Fiscal Year 2012 budget and aping conservative rhetoric about how Washington needs to cut back just like average families do, perpetuating the myth that a government budget is just like a family budget. He sounds more like his “brother in Christ” Tom Coburn than anyone else. And so how Democrats can even begin to fight this spending cut, when the leader of their party is basically leading them down the same path?
I don’t know if we’ll end up with $32 billion in cuts or $58-60 billion. But we’re going to have some in the near term, and that directly cancels out the stimulative effects of the tax cut deal, perhaps all of them.