- The Washington Times - Monday, May 7, 2007

Republican presidential hopeful Rudolph W. Giuliani last night said he would use attrition to cut more than 20 percent of federal civilian government employees and wants an outright cut in nondefense spending.

“The United States government right now needs an across-the-board spending decrease,” the former New York mayor told the Heritage Foundation last night.

Coupled with vows to continue the Bush tax cuts and to veto spending bills that include pork-barrel projects without listing their sponsor or purpose, Mr. Giuliani has now gone even further than former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has proposed limiting nondefense discretionary spending increases to 1 percent less than inflation.

Mr. Giuliani said that except for defense spending, which must be increased because the nation is at war, “don’t exclude anything” in his across-the-board cuts.

In a speech at the Ronald Reagan Building, in which he mentioned the late president five times, Mr. Giuliani ignored social issues almost entirely, except to tout his support for school vouchers. But the 45 minutes of remarks received dozens of ovations, and Mr. Giuliani returned the love, praising Heritage as one of the most important engines of conservatism.

The former mayor said part of the problem with spending in Washington is people use the wrong words to try to confuse the decisions.

He said politicians should stop using words such as “nondiscretionary spending,” which is usually used to describe spending on entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, which are set by funding formulas and have proved difficult for Congress to trim.

“If I can convince you that 60 percent of the budget is nondiscretionary, then I don’t have to do anything about it. The reality is that the entire budget is discretionary.”

His pledge to trim the federal work force relies on attrition. He said 42 percent of the federal civilian work force is due to retire during the next two presidential terms, which would run from 2009 through 2017. Mr. Giuliani proposed only filling half of those jobs and said it would cut costs by $70 billion a year.

“The challenge will be, of course, to convince the Democrats that there’s such a thing as a nonessential government employee,” he said.

He coupled his economic message with his push for staying “on offense” in the war against terrorists and said that “Democrats want to step back” on many of the key tools, including the USA Patriot Act, electronic surveillance and tough interrogation techniques.

“You step back on all of that, and you’re back where we were in the 1990s — in denial, in denial about the threat,” he said.

As for military spending, he lamented the fact that it has fallen to 4.1 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, compared with 6.2 percent under President Reagan.

In a speech this weekend to The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina, Mr. Giuliani proposed increasing the size of the Army. Yesterday, he said there would be no shortage of volunteers to fill out the force.

“The war is controversial on CNN. The war is controversial on MSNBC,” he said. “The war is not controversial at The Citadel. The war is not controversial at West Point, or the Naval Academy, or the Air Force Academy or the Coast Guard Academy. In fact, their applications are up.”

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