The Times piece is an effective lay-of-the-land deal and provides a timeframe for when we can expect the debate over spending cuts to really come to the fore in Congress—a vote on a resolution that will direct Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan to set spending at 2008 levels is schedules for Tuesday. (Interestingly, it’s just been announced that Ryan will be delivering the GOP’s State of the Union response.)
The Post’s own story on the proposal is much more direct in drawing battle lines within the Republican party. Reporter Lori Montgomery leads with this:
Congressional conservatives on Thursday demanded far more dramatic reductions in government spending than House GOP leaders have recently proposed, in the first sign of a fissure between old-guard Republicans and tea-party-backed newcomers.
And then cites evidence of the fissure:
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who is empowered by new House rules to unilaterally set a limit on spending, has said he plans to direct appropriators to slice only about $60 billion from this year’s budget. The House Appropriations Committee is identifying cuts at that level.
But dissatisfaction with that approach erupted Wednesday, when the House Rules Committee began considering a largely symbolic measure aimed at reaffirming the commitment to reduce spending. Freshman Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) insisted on changing the language to require faster and deeper cuts than Ryan has proposed. The full House is set to vote on the measure Tuesday, hours before President Obama delivers his State of the Union address.
Both pieces are decent all-inclusive reads—the Post’s feels the more comprehensive and aggressive (see: “erupted”)—but neither really gets at what the full impact of some of these cuts would be. And really, in an issue like this, that should come first. What I am interested in as much as the politics is the impact of the policy, something given shorter shrift in these two reports. Here are some specific GOP suggestions; let’s get specific on what they would mean.
For that, Slate’s Weigel is a good place to start. He lists, as above, some of the most interesting proposals. Talking Points Memo has posted the report (its brevity probably a big selling point to those who complained about the heft of the Affordable Health Care Act). And TPM’s Brian Beutler’s has an excellent look at some of the specifics: if X were to be cut by the suggested Y, Z would happen. Here are two examples:
Also on the RSC’s chopping block: the Legal Services Corporation, which is the federal organization that provides civil legal assistance to people who make up to 125 percent of the federal poverty line. The RSC says that eliminating the LSC would save $420 million—and the predominately low-income women currently served by the program would have to look elsewhere for assistance filing for help in domestic abuse cases and resolving custody issues (about 35 percent of its cases), in foreclosure or eviction disputes (25 percent of their cases) or even filing for bankruptcy.
They also want to eliminate Amtrak operating subsidies ($1.565 billion), which amounted to $32 per passenger in 2009. In 2009, 41 of Amtrak’s 44 routes—which service 500 destinations in 46 states—lost money, indicating that, without the subsidies, Amtrak would have to significantly reduce or eliminate its service outside the heavily trafficked urban coastal routes. The plans also call for the elimination of Intercity and High Speed Rail Grants to the tune of $2.5 billion a year.