Conservatives: Spending Freeze Would Save $2 Trillion

They charge the Boehner plan still spends, not cuts.

By + More

House conservatives vowing to vote against Speaker John Boehner's plan have seized on a much simpler plan put forward by the libertarian Cato Institute: Put a real freeze on spending and that alone will save $2 trillion a year in 10 years.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the budget and deficit.]

"What Boehner's proposing is going to be $1 trillion [more spending] next year than it was last year. Why don't we just freeze everything? Everybody get what they got last year. Why shouldn't they be happy? We're in a crisis," Rep. Ron Paul said on Fox News today.

Here's what he and others are talking about. The Boehner plan caps spending to reduce budget deficits by about $915 billion between 2012 and 2021. The cuts, says Cato, are based on Congressional Budget Office spending baselines which go from $3.6 trillion now to $5.7 trillion in 10 years. [See 6 consequences if the debt ceiling isn't raised.]

"You could freeze total spending," said Chris Edwards, director of tax policy studies for Cato, "and you'd be saving $2 trillion by 2021."

He explained that federal spending is $3.6 trillion this year rising to $5.7 trillion by 2021. "Thus a hard freeze on all spending would be saving $2.1 trillion a year by 2021."

That kind of freeze would be unrealistic, but possibly acceptable until the deficit comes down, say some conservatives. [Check out U.S. News's new iPad app.]

According to Congressional Budget Office, Boehner's plan places caps on expected spending. It makes cuts on expected spending of nearly $1 trillion.

Edwards has a chart of actually spending under Boehner's plan that shows discretionary spending. His analysis: "Spending increases every year—from $1.043 trillion in 2012 to $1.234 trillion in 2021."

On Fox, Paul also said he isn't willing to give in to the GOP leadership's pressure for a vote for the Boehner plan. "Why should I make conditions worse?"

  • See a slide show of 6 ways to raise the debt ceiling.
  • See a slide show of 6 consequences if the debt ceiling isn't raised.
  • Vote now: Will there be a debt ceiling deal?