Sunday, February 13, 2011

Debate: Battle of the Budget

On Thursday we'll be discussing the GOP's proposed budget and the forthcoming White House budget (released tomorrow). Here are a few articles to brief you on the issue:


Patrick_Landers said...

in case anyone else runs into the WSJ subscription firewall, and doesn't have a password, here's the text of the first article:
February 12, 2011

House GOP Leaders Release Plan for Deeper Cuts


WASHINGTON—House Republican leaders released a detailed plan Friday evening for cutting federal spending by $61 billion for the remainder of this fiscal year, slashing the budgets of the Department of Education, the Environmental Protection Agency and many other agencies.

The move comes after GOP leaders earlier this week offered an initial plan for smaller cuts and warned that bigger reductions would cut essential government services. But they were forced to yield to an uprising of conservative members, who argued that Republicans had promised voters in last year's election campaign that they would cut deeper.

These conservative lawmakers appeared mollified by Friday's more far-reaching proposal. While the plan would reduce spending from 2010 levels by about $61 billion, GOP leaders said it also met a goal laid out by Republicans in the mid-term campaign to set spending at $100 billion less than President Barack Obama's proposed budget for the current year, which was never enacted.

Republican leaders said funding for labor, health and human services programs would be nearly 11% below last year's levels; transportation, housing and urban-development funding would drop 23%; and commerce, justice and science programs would be reduced by 18% from last year's level.

The proposed cuts touch on an array of programs long cherished by Democrats, who say they're crucial to helping the disadvantaged. The nutrition program for women, infants and children would be cut by $747 million, for example, and Head Start would be reduced by nearly $1.1 billion.

The proposals released Friday evening build on the House leaders' initial plan, which called, among other things, for abolishing more than 100 programs, including the Americorps national service program, aid to family planning programs for the poor and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Republicans said the cuts were painful but necessary to begin restraining federal spending that was veering out of control. It would amount to the largest cut in discretionary spending in U.S. history, GOP leaders said.

"These were hard decisions, and I know many people will not be happy with everything we've proposed in this package," said Rep. Hal Rogers (R., Ky.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. "That's understandable and not unexpected, but I believe these reductions are necessary to show that we are serious about returning our nation to a sustainable financial path."

The government is currently being funded through a spending measure that expires on March 4. New legislation is required to keep the government operating for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30.

Patrick_Landers said...

The Republicans' proposed cuts did not tackle Social Security or Medicare, which make up the lion's share of federal spending, but are popular and politically difficult to cut. And the plan would cut few military programs below current levels.

Democrats said the cuts would hurt the economy and target the middle class. They said they agreed spending cuts are necessary but accused Republicans of wielding an ax rather than a scalpel.

"Republicans are proposing an irresponsible spending bill that threatens job and economic growth, hampers our global competitiveness, and harms the people hurting most— working families and the middle class," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.).

Democrats pointed specifically to cuts of $88 million for the Food Safety and Inspection Service, which inspects meat and poultry, and $241 million for the Food and Drug Administration. They suggested these cuts could threaten Americans' safety.

The plan is the opening shot in a coming battle over spending. The House will debate the proposal in what is likely to be a raucous session next week, when conservatives are expected to offer even deeper cuts and Democrats are planning to try to restore some of the money.

After the House approves its plan, it will have to battle the Democratic-controlled Senate and White House. Democrats made it clear they want far fewer cuts, arguing that slashing spending now risks harming the still-fragile economic recovery.

Some of the GOP cuts go directly against priorities outlined by Mr. Obama, who has spoken of the need to invest in infrastructure, education and research to keep the U.S. globally competitive. The Republican plan would cut $5 billion from high-speed rail programs and would take $600 million from other infrastructure spending.

The COPS program, which funds police departments, would be reduced by $501 million, and spending on energy efficiency programs would fall by $786 million. In addition, numerous programs of the Education Department and Environmental Protection Agency would be cut. An array of international aid programs would also be reduced.

Democrats have already begun pushing back against these cuts, setting up a months-long battle for public opinion. Republicans argue that last November's election results reflect voters' demands for sharp reductions in federal spending. Democrats say that when the public sees the cuts Republicans have in mind, they will view them as extreme.

Looming over the fight is the threat of a shutdown of the federal government. Both sides say they do not want such a shutdown, but if the parties cannot agree on how to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year, a government closure is a possibility.

Even as the battle unfolds over funding for the rest of 2011, Mr. Obama is scheduled to release his 2012 budget on Monday, leading to further battles.

Corrections & Amplifications

The nutrition program for women, infants and children would be cut by $747 million. An earlier version of this story had the figure as $747 billion.

Write to Naftali Bendavid at

Ryan Karerat said...

Another useful link:

Aggregates reports the Post has filed on what is happening in each department.

Megan said...

Thanks Patrick!

Maggie said...

Thanks, Patty