GOP Wants 'Deep Cuts' from Obama, but Their Proposal Doesn't Cut It

Monday, January 24, 2011 - 02:33 PM

Neither party has shown any willingness to start tackling the long term deficit issues facing our country.

The most recent illustration of this, spun all tightly into a well-packaged bit of public relations, is the list of proposals put forth by the Republican Budget Study Committee last week.

They know that the vast majority of our deficit problems come from military, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid spending. These programs are not mentioned a single time in their two page list of spending they’d like to cut.

Not surprisingly, I’m not for cuts as steep as theirs, but in general, they are right that we need to start paring down discretionary spending with targeted cuts and a hard cap on growth until the deficit comes back into the realm of sanity. It also makes a lot of sense to enact a pay freeze for federal workers until the economy recovers, although five years seems overboard.

There are a few outlandish ideas in the mix though. It’s just plain silly to put in place a rule that would impose a cap on discretionary spending through 2021. That’s right, ten years. Nobody knows what is going to happen in the next few years, much less the next decade. Putting a cap like that in place just doesn’t make sense. It also doesn’t make any sense to defund Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, unless they’d like to see housing prices plummet yet again, putting our fragile — but growing — economy into yet another tailspin.

What they get right is that some of these cuts are the kind we are just going to have to learn to live with if we are going to trim the budget like it needs to be trimmed to bring our fiscal house in order. Years of spending more than we’ve brought in are making the choices we have left more painful, and if we don’t start making hard choices now, the choices left to us will get even more difficult.

Whether you agree with these specific cuts, or any of the 55 smaller cuts they list, it is plain to see that a significant portion of this is a very political play to throw a bone to the budget hawks among their rank and file, without proposing cuts in any programs that have any significant support among their base.

These cuts are more than chump change to be sure, and certain constituencies would certainly feel the pain of the loss of these spending programs, but I think it is only accurate to call cuts deep, as they are asking from Obama in exchange for the debt ceiling to be increased, if they have a noticeable impact on our long term deficit problems. To do that would require proposed cuts in popular social welfare programs and the military, and/or increases in revenue to make up for the gigantic shortfalls that are on their way, whether you like it or not, in coming years. Neither party has taken the lead on this, and until one or both does so, all of this talk of “deep cuts” is merely window dressing on a home with a crumbling foundation.

Solomon Kleinsmith is a nonprofit worker, serial social entrepreneur and strident centrist independent blogger from Omaha, Nebraska. His website, Rise of the Center, is the fastest growing blog targeting centrist independents and moderates. He is currently collaborating with other centrist independent and moderate bloggers on a news aggregation and social networking site, and is always looking for ways to help the independent groundswell as more and more people become disaffected with the two major parties.


More in:

Comments [5]

matt from bklyn

Solomon -

You need to learn a bit more about what the big costs in the government are and how we can limit the deficits that those costs might generate.

First, the big problem is not spending, full stop, but the difference between spending and revenue. So, the issue is: how can we make sure that revenue is higher than spending?

So, we need BOTH to increase revenue and to decrease spending.

It is a serious error to take spending decrease measures that will decrease revenues as well. For, that will not decrease the deficit. Why? Remember that the worry is the spending-revenue *relation*, not the absolute amount of spending.

So, things are a lot more complicated than you "moderates" seem to understand.

The project is actually incredibly difficult: we do not have a good sense of how decreases in spending will affect economic development.

One thing we should consider: perhaps the largest source of the deficit are medical care costs. If we are really serious about decreasing the deficit, we need to tackle this. But, of course, you moderates don't have the guts to tackle these really hard problems.

Jan. 26 2011 11:01 AM
Carl Borruso from New York

As I understand it, the Republicans want to scale back government department expenses to Dec.2008. I have an idea for them that will surely be far more bebneficial to reducing the deficit. Bring taxes back to pre-Bush, Dec. 2000. Then all the super rich will finally be payinbg their fair share.

Jan. 25 2011 05:11 PM
Tom Degan from Goshen, NY

On November 8, 1952, Dwight D. Eisenhower, in a letter to his brother Edgar, wrote the following:

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes that you can do these things. Among them are a few Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

I could not agree more. Let them eliminate Social Security. It would almost be worth it to have that disgusting party wiped off the face of the earth.

Tom Degan

Jan. 25 2011 03:56 AM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

I totally agree. Any freezes in pay that federal workers have to deal with should be something those in congress should have to take as well, at minimum.

Jan. 24 2011 10:19 PM
Juan Flores from New York, NY

I think that freezing federal workers' pay for 5 years is outrageous! I think that the republicans should give back the raises that they have given themselves over the last five years and freeze their pay for the next five years in order to begin to pay back the cost of the Iraq war which the last republican president left us saddled with. Why don't we hear any proposals to share the sacrifices we are being asked to make? Why aren't corporations asked to pay their fair share of taxes and help out their country?

Jan. 24 2011 08:55 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.


About It's A Free Blog

Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of a blog, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Supported by

WNYC is supported by the Charles H. Revson Foundation: Because a great city needs an informed and engaged public.  Learn more at



Supported by