Change direction of federal spending
By: Rep. John A. Boehner
April 13, 2011 11:47 PM EDT
Six months ago, shortly before the election, the Democrats who run Washington were preparing an “omnibus” spending bill loaded with earmarks and job-crushing tax hikes on small businesses.
Today, the people’s House is due to vote on a bill that cuts $315 billion from the federal budget over the next 10 years — the largest non-defense spending cut in our history, earmark-free and with zero tax hikes. These are real cuts.
It isn’t cause for celebration or back-patting. It’s what happens when the American people speak out. It’s what government should be doing.
This agreement isn’t perfect. But it is exactly what we need to pave the way for the “Path to Prosperity” budget offered by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), which moves the debate from cutting billions of dollars to cutting trillions. It also cleans up the budget mess left by the last Congress — sending a signal to job creators nationwide that we have begun to end Washington’s spending binge.
“This first step,” the Stanford economist John B. Taylor wrote, “helps establish the credibility needed for the budget strategy to increase economic growth and encourage private investment.”
Specifically, House Republicans – up against a Democratic-run Senate and Democratic-controlled White House – forced an agreement that cuts nearly $40 billion, compared to FY 2010 spending levels. This means the federal government will spend $78.5 billion less this year than President Barack Obama proposed.
The total spending cut would have been even higher – nearly $45 billion – had we not fought for and secured a $5 billion increase in defense spending. This ensures that our troops have the tools they need to accomplish their multiple missions.
The American people are concerned not just about how much we’re spending, but how we’re spending it. One Obamacare program is eliminated altogether in this agreement; a second is cut nearly in half.
Four of the Obama administration’s controversial “czars” are eliminated – and the president is prohibited from replacing them. These include the “czars” charged with overseeing his government takeover of health care and tasked with implementing the president’s job-crushing national energy tax. They’re gone. The administration is signaling it will challenge the constitutionality of these provisions. We say: Bring it on.
The agreement also secures Senate votes and debates on de-funding two of the president’s top priorities – his job-crushing health care law and Planned Parenthood. It saves the successful D.C. school choice program that Democrats have been trying to eliminate for years.
The Environmental Protection Agency, considered a prime source of government overregulation, is to have its budget cut by 16 percent. Students will no longer be able to draw two Pell Grant awards at the same time — saving taxpayers $35 billion over the next 10 years.
More than 40 other ineffective Department of Education programs will also be eliminated — including Educational Technology State Grants, Even Start, Advanced Credentialing, Mental Health Integration, Exchanges with Historic Whaling Partners, Women’s Educational Equity, Tech-Prep Education State Grants, Smaller Learning Communities, Legal Assistance Loan Repayment Program, Thurgood Marshall Legal Opportunity Scholarships and B.J. Stupak Olympic Scholarships.
This is all happening just months after the president and his Democratic allies called for zero cuts – and claimed spending cuts would hurt the economy.
Liberals like the economist Paul Krugman have slammed the president for the agreement — noting it means the White House has, in effect, admitted the “stimulus” spending binge is over.
They’re right. No matter how imperfect the agreement may be, we’re poised to make historic cuts to both discretionary and mandatory “autopilot” spending. For anyone who believes Washington should be spending more, taxing more and borrowing more — this is a defeat.
It’s true that many of the cuts in the agreement were proposed in the president’s budget – but those cuts were used by the president to offset additional or new spending elsewhere. Now those cuts are real cuts. We’re chopping billions of dollars off the baseline rather than allowing the Obama administration simply to shift the savings toward other spending.
Think of it this way: You have $100 in your wallet that you were going to use to buy new clothes. You haven’t spent it yet, because you haven’t found shirts you like or decided you didn’t need them. Then someone comes along and takes away your $100.
Now you can’t spend it – not on clothes or anything else you were considering. The money’s gone – your budget’s been cut. We’re taking away tens of billions of taxpayer dollars from the Obama administration.
The new Republican majority began this Congress armed with a pledge: to create a better environment for private sector job growth by cutting spending and removing barriers that make it harder for small businesses to hire new workers.
That’s exactly what we’re doing, one step at a time. The spending cut agreement to be voted on today isn’t perfect – not by a long shot. But it’s an important step toward getting Washington spending under control and eliminating some of the barriers that are hurting job growth. There are many more steps, more cuts, and more reforms to come.
Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) is the speaker of the House.