The GOP is continuing to push back against the Obama-led spending spree from the last two years. It's difficult to do, given that Democrats still have the capacity to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government through the next few months—in lieu of the yearly appropriations bills—that would give them the authority to do much of what they want to do over the next two years even if the Republicans object.
Nevertheless, individual leaders are stepping up to the plate and offering their own ideas to bring down spending. On Tuesday the Senate Republican Caucus approved a resolution introduced by South Dakota Sen. John Thune "to cut federal non-security discretionary spending to fiscal year 2008 levels," a move that, if implemented, would roll back federal outlays considerably.
The effort is part of a larger program Thune has been pushing for some time—to make him, it should be noted, someone to be taken seriously on the list of 2012 presidential possibilities—that would allow spending to increase only at the rate of inflation.
"Since 2008, the federal government's discretionary spending has increased by more than 20 percent," the Senate Republican Policy Committee said in announcing acceptance of the resolution. "When the $814 billion stimulus is added in, the total increase jumps to 84 percent. Inflation over that same time amounted to less than two percent. "
"In adopting this resolution," Thune said, "Republicans in the Senate are saying that we are eager to rein in wasteful government spending and have a clear plan for how to do it. Washington's unprecedented spending spree over the past two years has left us with record deficits that threaten our country's long-term strength. This is a common sense start to bringing federal spending back under control."
Thune's office estimates that the return to 2008 levels would save taxpayers roughly $450 billion over the next 10 years which, while not enough to close the gap entirely, certainly gets the nation's fiscal house turned around and headed in the right direction.