Some more specifics on the proposed Republican slice and dice we mentioned yesterday.
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 Room put 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
(click to continue reading GOP Introduces Insane $2.5 Trillion Budget Cut Proposal, But Stumbles and Mocks Specifics | AlterNet.)
So what we have here, in essence, is a document concluding that $330 billion in specific cuts plus some hand-waving equals $2.5 trillion. It’s the underpants gnome theory of federal budgeting.
What the GOP leaves out is the real consequence of reducing all non-defense discretionary spending to the 2006 level. Such a cut would mean significant reductions in Pell Grants, federal highway funding, the National Park Service, federal education funding, cancer research, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, the Coast Guard, and the Secret Service. Here are some specifics*:
- Pell Grants: About $14.9 billion in cuts
- National Park Service: $600 million
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement: $2.9 billion
- Secret Service: $300 million
- Coast Guard: $2.6 billion.
- National Institutes of Health: $5 billion
- Federal Prison System: $1.5 billion.
Every dollar that is preserved in those programs and agencies means that a deeper cut has to be made somewhere else. The RSC also left the defense budget completely off the table.
(click to continue reading Wonk Room » What The Republican Study Committee Didn’t Say In Its Spending Cut Proposal.)
Republicans hate America, in other words, and want it to turn into a banana Republic as soon as possible.
And from Kate Sheppard of Mother Jones:
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)’s Republican Study Committee on Thursday released a list of programs they’d like to see cut as part of the Spending Reduction Act of 2011. Clean energy, efficiency, rail, and climate programs were all atop the two-page list of cuts, reaffirming the fact that when Republicans say they want an “all of the above” energy plan, they really mean just coal, oil, gas, and sometimes nuclear.
On the cutting room floor, if the committee gets its way: the Applied Research program at the Department of Energy, Amtrak, and the Washington Metro, among other programs that help reduce energy use and develop new technologies.…
- Energy Star Program. $52 million a year.
- Intercity and High Speed Rail Grants. $2.5 billion a year.
- Department of Energy Grants to States for Weatherization. $530 million annual savings.
- Amtrak Subsidies. $1.565 billion annual savings.
- Technology Innovation Program. $70 million annual savings.
- Applied Research at Department of Energy. $1.27 billion annual savings.
- New Starts Transit. $2 billion annual savings.
- FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership. $200 million annual savings.
- Subsidy for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. $150 million annual savings.
- Eliminate the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program. $56.2 million annual savings.
Most of these are small changes in the grand scheme of things the federal government spends money on. Notably the list doesn’t include cuts to defense or, more pertinent to the energy conversation, cuts to our investment in highways. And our research and development expenditures for energy are already paltry compared to other federal programs.
(click to continue reading Republicans Target Energy Spending | Mother Jones.)