GOP Introduces Insane $2.5 Trillion Budget Cut Proposal, But Stumbles and Mocks Specifics
The Republicans' blustery budget-slicing rhetoric that marred the midterm elections has finally come to pass -- only, when you break it down, it kind of looks like they have no idea what they're doing. The Republican Study Committee announced its plan yesterday to cut spending to the tune of $2.5 trillion over the course of ten years. While that number will certainly resonate with their base, the problem is they don't specify how they'll do that. The specific programs and allocations they wish to gut only amount to $330 billion, with the rest of the cuts coming from “discretionary spending limits through 2021 at 2006 levels on the non-defense portion of the discretionary budget.” This is, as the Wonk Roomput it, “hand-waving” that, in practice, would result in huge cuts to popular programs like Pell Grants, the National Park Service, the Coast Guard and more.
However, the cuts they do have specified aren't exactly programs we'll easily take on the chin. Predictably, they want to sever huge numbers from the budgets of programs for the arts, including $445 million from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and $167.5 million from the NEA. Further, the federal workforce, high speed rail grants and DC's transit authority (the Metro), healthcare administrative costs and more. Not on the table, predictably, is the defense budget, which is a gusher of money that most members of the GOP refuse to cauterize. Slate's Dave Wiegel broke down some of the bigger, more significant portions of the proposed cuts, and spoke with a couple of Republicans on the topic, including Rep. Jim Jordan, who introduced the cuts:
Jordan was asked whether Republicans had calculated how many jobs would be eliminated by these cuts. "We think if you reduce federal government spending, you actually create jobs," said Jordan. He did say that these specific cuts had been brainstormed by the RSC but not presented to House leaders yet.
Reducing federal spending... creating jobs... hmm. That logic doesn't really equate. But at least Jordan had an answer. John Boehner, Speaker of the House and huge megaphone for the GOP's “Pledge to America,” couldn't be bothered by the specifics of the budget -- he just punts his duties to other representatives. In a shameful interview with Politico, he practically mocked the concept that he would know how to fix the budget:
Neither House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), nor House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) even attended a House Rules Committee hearing on the resolution Wednesday. Democrats pounced in what became a freewheeling, sometimes comical proceeding. And while Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is very much driving the train, he has kept himself divorced from the details of what represents an average 18 percent cut from 2010 spending levels.
“You’re asking me?” Boehner laughed, when asked by POLITICO how he thought the cuts would be first implemented in a stopgap spending bill next month. “I know how to delegate.”
ThinkProgress also notes that for all of Boehner's budget-cutting tough talk during the elections, he gave an interview earlier this month that shows he hasn't a clue what he's doing. When NBC's Brian Williams asked about which specific programs he'd cut, Boehner responded, “I don’t think I have one off the top of my head.”
Shocking. Shameful. And utterly incompetent.
Meanwhile, Rep. John Campbell, RSC member, couldn't answer when Fox News' Neil Cavuto -- presumably a friendly face -- questioned exactly how the $2.5 trillion number in the budget proposal was reached. Watch his oddly stumbling interview here: