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GOP panel maps plan for huge budget cuts
Amtrak, PBS trims pushed; defense safe
Question of the Day
An influential group of conservative House Republicans issued a blueprint Thursday for slashing the budgets of PBS, Amtrak and the National Endowment for the Arts — and dozens of other government programs and agencies — in a bid to roll back spending and shrink the national debt.
The Republican Study Committee’s (RSC) proposed Spending Reduction Act of 2011 calls for lowering federal spending by $2.5 trillion during the next 10 years, but it has little chance of becoming law in its current form. Nevertheless, the group’s leaders say they hope their plan will influence lawmakers to rethink how they spend taxpayer dollars.
“That’s our job, to give that nudge that’s needed to make sure we act like [Republicans]. And I happen to believe that when we act like us, it’s not only good for Republicans, but more importantly, it’s good for the country.”
While exempting defense, homeland security and veterans programs, the bill would return 2011 discretionary spending to 2008 levels, which RSC officials said would save $80 billion.
In the following decade, the measure would hold such spending to 2006 levels for an estimated savings of $2.29 trillion, the group said.
This “gives us a $2.5 trillion head start in the race to preserve the fiscal stability of the United States,” said Rep. Scott Garrett of New Jersey, who heads the RSC’s task force on the budget. “To achieve long-term fiscal stability, we must finish the race by making the tough decisions Congress has put off for far too long.”
The RSC also proposed a laundry list of program cuts to save billions of dollars more, including annual savings of $445 million from cuts to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, $335 million annual savings from combined cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, $1.565 billion annual savings in cuts to Amtrak, and $52 million annual savings from cuts in the national Energy Star program.
The proposal also calls for repeal of the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires that “prevailing” local wages be paid on public-works projects - a move the group says would save more than $1 billion annually. Labor unions have been strong supporters of the law.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, said he applauded the spending-cuts proposal, saying, “I look forward to these cuts and others being brought to the floor for an up-or-down vote.”
But House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, so far has been noncommittal on the plan.
“Our immediate goal [is] to cut spending to pre-bailout, pre-stimulus levels,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. “That’s what we pledged, and that’s what we’ll fight for.
“But that will be the beginning, not the end, of our efforts to cut spending and create jobs - and we appreciate every member’s input.”
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About the Author
Sean Lengell covers Congress and national politics and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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