The Cuts in the Republicans’ Pledge
Primary among the proposals in the Republicans’ “Pledge to America” is the promise to cut spending, slash taxes and shrink the government to restore the United States’ fiscal health. How do they intend to do it, and to end the United States’ debt and deficit problems?
With common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops, we will roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, saving us at least $100 billion in the first year alone and putting us on a path to balance the budget and pay down the debt. We will also establish strict budget caps to limit federal spending from this point forward. We will launch a sustained effort to stem the relentless growth in government that has occurred over the past decade. By cutting Congress’ budget, imposing a net hiring freeze on non-security federal employees, and reviewing every current government program to eliminate wasteful and duplicative programs, we can curb Washington’s irresponsible spending habits and reduce the size of government, while still fulfilling our necessary obligations.
We will also prevent Washington from forcing responsible taxpayers to subsidize irresponsible behavior by ending bailouts permanently, canceling the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), and reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
That is not actually a plan, of course. It is a plan to make a plan.
First, Democrats put into their own Dodd-Frank law an amendment precisely “prohibit[ing] taxpayers from ever having to bail out the financial sector.” There are no bailouts.
Second, ending TARP is not a serious policy idea, either. The program sunsets on October 3 — about 10 days from now. And it ended up costing less than a tenth of its initial budget.
Third, there are no cuts in this proposal. There are caps on federal hiring, for instance, but nothing that would represent more than tens of billions of dollars in savings — though the United States is trillions of dollars in debt. Republicans say there are duplicative programs that should be eliminated, but do not name one.
Later, the Republicans do elaborate on these ideas, somewhat:
- **Act Immediately to Reduce Spending: **There is no reason to wait to reduce wasteful and unnecessary spending. Congress should move immediately to cancel unspent “stimulus” funds, and block any attempts to extend the timeline for spending “stimulus” funds. Throwing more money at a stimulus plan that is not working only wastes taxpayer money and puts us further in debt.
- **Cut Government Spending to Pre-Stimulus, Pre-Bailout Levels: **With common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops, we will roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, saving us at least $100 billion in the first year alone and putting us on a path to begin paying down the debt, balancing the budget, and ending the spending spree in Washington that threatens our children’s future.
- **Establish a Hard Cap on New Discretionary Spending: **We must put common-sense limits on the growth of government and stop the endless increases. Only in Washington is there an expectation that whatever your budget was last year, it will be more this year and even more the next. We will set strict budget caps to limit federal spending on an annual basis. Budget caps were used in the 1990s, when a Republican Congress was able to bring the budget into balance and eventual surplus. By cutting discretionary spending from current levels and imposing a hard cap on future growth, we will save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.
- **Cut Congress’ Budget: **This year, Congress increased its own budget by 5.8 percent at a time when families and small businesses across the country are cutting back. We will make Congress do more with less by significantly reducing its budget.
- **Hold Weekly Votes on Spending Cuts: **Earlier this year, House Republicans launched the YouCut initiative to combat the permissive culture of runaway spending in Congress. Over the course of nine weeks, YouCut produced proposals to save taxpayers more than $120 billion. We will continue to hold weekly votes on spending cuts.
- End TARP Once And For All: Americans are rightly outraged at the bailouts of businesses and entities that force responsible taxpayers to subsidize irresponsible behavior. We will cancel the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), a move that would save taxpayers roughly $16 billion.
- End Government Control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: Since taking over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage companies that triggered the financial meltdown by giving too many high risk loans to people who couldn’t afford them, taxpayers were billed more than $145 billion to save the two companies. We will reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by ending their government takeover, shrinking their portfolios, and establishing minimum capital standards. This will save taxpayers as much as $30 billion.
- **Impose a Net Federal Hiring Freeze of Non-Security Employees: **Small businesses and entrepreneurs are the engine of our economy and should not be crowded out by unchecked government growth. We will impose a net hiring freeze on non-security federal employees and ensure that the public sector no longer grows at the expense of the private sector.
- **Root Out Government Waste and Duplication: **Once created, federal programs almost never go away, even if the problem they were created to address is no longer relevant. More than 20 states have addressed this problem by requiring that programs end – or “sunset” – by a date certain. We will adopt this requirement at the federal level to force Congress to determine if a program is worthy of continued taxpayer support. necessary to protect our entitlement programs for today’s seniors and future generations.
- Reform the Budget Process to Focus on Long-Term Challenges: We will make the decisions that are requiring a full accounting of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, setting benchmarks for these programs and reviewing them regularly, and preventing the expansion of unfunded liabilities.
But, again, there are no *actual *suggestions for cuts here. It is all well and good to say you’ll cut the federal budget. It is quite another to start taking away seniors’ Social Security, or families’ school-lunch funding, or farmers’ subsidies, or workers’ unemployment insurance, or bridge-builders’ contracts.