MURDOCK: How the GOP can keep its $100 billion promise

Seize tens of billions in forgotten funds and add them to $38.5 billion deal

Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

View results

“What happened to the campaign promise of $100 billion?” radio host Rush Limbaugh demanded Monday. “If $38 billion is it, there’s going to be hell to pay,” he predicted.

At 12:40 last Saturday morning, 28 GOP House members voted against the deal that House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and President Obama had announced barely two hours earlier. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Texas Rep. Louis Gohmert, Iowa Rep. Steve King, Florida Rep. Connie Mack, Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter and South Carolina Rep. Tim Scott were among the House’s 28 conservative GOP and pro-Tea Party luminaries who turned their thumbs down on the pact to reduce spending by $38.5 billion (or $79 billion below President Obama’s budget request) and avoid a government shutdown. In their view, it did not cut deeply enough.

Meanwhile, political strategist Dick Morris wants apocalypse now.

“We need to purify our party and purge it of the likes of John Boehner and all those congressmen who vote for the budget sellout,” wrote Bill Clinton’s former campaign consultant turned conservative agitator. “The Tea Party must take the lead in this purifying fire.”

While neither Mr. Boehner’s speakership nor the House GOP majority’s functionality seems in jeopardy, it is time to fuse rather than widen these fissures on the right. Instead of splitting the Republican conference and the broader free-market and Tea Party movements by violating last fall’s promise to cut this year’s budget by $100 billion, the GOP should find the money to keep its pledge to slice at least $61 billion (the pro-rated share of $100 billion for the portion of fiscal 2011 spending actually under Republican control).

Here’s how to do it:

More than $703 billion in forgotten funds languish in federal accounts all over Washington. This money was authorized for various purposes and then wholly or partially abandoned. This includes $12.2 billion hibernating at the Agriculture Department, $16.4 billion at Labor, $25.2 billion at Housing and Urban Development, $71.4 billion at Defense, and $309.1 billion at Treasury.

Some of this money arguably should be husbanded for a rainy day. However, according to Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, at least $82 billion of these funds have been dormant for at least six years. Since Uncle Sam did not use it, he should lose it. If, after five years, Washington has not spent this cash, it should revert to the Treasury to finance spending cuts and/or tax relief.

So, from this $82 billion in moldy money, the House GOP leadership should shift $61.5 billion, add it to Friday’s $38.5 billion deal and create a $100 billion budget cut. If this is too much to ask, Republicans should place at least $22.5 billion of this overlooked cash atop the $38.5 billion on the table, to deliver a $61 billion budget cut.

If House Republicans accomplish this, they will satisfy their fall campaign promise. Rush Limbaugh, Dick Morris, frustrated Tea Party activists and perhaps a unanimous GOP conference will support this enhanced deal. Rather than splinter, the American right will remain unified and, in fact, re-energize itself for the debt-limit and “Path to Prosperity” battles ahead.

Arizona GOP Rep. David Schweikert’s Forgotten Funds Act is a ready-made vehicle to achieve all of this. In the Senate, Mr. Coburn pioneered this issue and should shepherd it to victory.

And if Democrats decide to shut down the government on Thursday - the day after President Obama unveils his debt-busting budget makeover - in order to protect taxpayer dollars that have festered since fiscal 2005, let them do so. The American people’s laughter will devolve into rage. And Democrats will lose that fight.

Deroy Murdock is a syndicated columnist and media fellow with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks
You Might Also Like
  • Maureen McDonnell looks on as her husband, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, made a statement on Tuesday after the couple was indicted on corruption charges. (associated press)

    PRUDEN: Where have the big-time grifters gone?

  • This photo taken Jan. 9, 2014,  shows New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gesturing as he answers a question during a news conference  at the Statehouse in Trenton.  Christie will propose extending the public school calendar and lengthening the school day in a speech he hopes will help him rebound from an apparent political payback scheme orchestrated by key aides. The early front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination will make a case Tuesday Jan. 14, 2014, that children who spend more time in school graduate better prepared academically, according to excerpts of his State of the State address obtained by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    BRUCE: Bombastic arrogance or humble determination? Chris Christie’s choice

  • ** FILE ** Secretary of State Hillary Rodham testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Chris Stevens and three other Americans. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

    PRUDEN: The question to haunt the West

  • Get Breaking Alerts