A “Drastic” Budget Proposal

New York Daily News reports, “The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted for massive spending cuts Saturday, slashing $60 billion from the budget and setting up a potential showdown with President Obama.” This Congress is under pressure to pass a budget before March 4 that will run until September 30. This is because the 111th Congress failed to pass a full budget, instead passing bills to extend 2010 spending levels until March 4, 2011. New York Daily News continues, “There is little time to work out a deal because Congress is in recess next week.” Adding, “If a new proposal is not in place by next month’s deadline, the government will shut down for the first time since 1995.”

I didn’t realize that cutting 1.6% of a budget could be considered a “massive spending cut.” This minimal cut in spending has also been called “dramatic” (Washington Post) and “a meat-ax approach on top of a meat-ax approach” (Rep. Norm Dicks). Tom Knapp writes, “Not only is $61 billion not ‘dramatic,’ ‘drastic’ or ‘a meat-ax approach on top of a meat-ax approach,’ it’s not even, to use a much over-used word, ‘serious.’

‘Serious’ would be cutting that $1.654 (trillion) deficit entirely. For a little gold ‘sensible’ star, cut a little more than that to get a surplus and use that surplus to draw down debt principal. Only at some point well beyond those would words like ‘dramatic’ become accurately descriptive.”

One budget amendment removes federal subsidies to Planned Parenthood, another will eliminate funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting & another will eliminate funding to the Corporation for National Service, which runs the Americorps program, though many other subsidies remain. Politico reports, “NASCAR sponsorships paid for by the military and subsidies to Brazilian cotton interests” remain. I’m fairly positive farm subsidies that generally help “mega-farms” such as Monsanto will remain as will energy subsidies. The constitutionality of these subsidies will likely not be mentioned by either House of Congress and if it is, the “necessary and proper” clause, “general welfare” clause or a loose interpretation of the interstate commerce clause will likely be given as justification for federal interference in what should be privately owned and operated businesses.

If this Congress wanted to do something really “drastic” that could actually be called a “massive spending cut” they could cut all spending that is outside Constitutional authority; nearly two-thirds of federal spending according to Dr. Walter E. Williams (Social Security, Medicare, farm and business subsidies, education, prescription drugs, etc). Alternately Congress could eliminate the $1 trillion per year spent on foreign policy, this includes both foreign aid, the cost of operating nearly 1000 military bases in 159 nations & two undeclared wars. However, the Congress would rather continue increasing the federal debt while paying lip service to spending cuts.