From foreign aid to mohair subsidies, from public broadcasting to the National Endowment for the Arts, the House GOP has its budget-trimming shears out and ready. The aim: cut $2.5 trillion in spending over the next 10 years. The “Spending Reduction Act of 2011” proposes a series of what are likely to be highly controversial cuts in an effort to get the federal debt and budget deficit on the right track. The plan suggests rolling spending levels for non-defense-related items back to 2008 levels for fiscal year 2011 and back to 2006 levels for 2012-2021. It also prohibits funding of the “ Democrat government takeover of health care” or of any costs to legally defend that law.
One cut listed would “require collection of unpaid taxes by federal employees. $1 billion total savings.” U.S. News blogger Mary Kate Cary says reading about federal employees who haven’t paid taxes yet have kept their federal jobs gets her blood boiling. “This is the kind of stuff that drives taxpayers crazy, and they want it fixed yesterday,” she writes. “The list reveals the depth of special-interest horse trading that's been going on for years here in Washington, and why people are fed up with excessive earmarks.”
But The Hill’s finance blog raises concerns about releasing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from government control—a cut the plan says will save $30 billion—while the struggling housing market hangs in the balance. “It remains to be seen how—or if—the private sector could fill the gap,” the authors write.
Other critics point out that the cuts could increase unemployment, and NPR political blogger Frank James points out that discretionary spending—the part of the budget the plan would cut—makes up only 16 percent of the federal budget. “Many experts have said it’s impossible for the nation to cut its way to fiscal health” without addressing Social Security and Medicare. James suggests it could be more of a political move, forcing Obama and Democrats to come up with proposed cuts of their own. “If this list creates any winners,” James writes. “It will be the lobbyists who will bill a lot of hours for trying to ease their clients off the trapdoor.”
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Previously: Should Obama push China harder on human rights?