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“Right Now, Not Next Year, But Now”

Congressional Republicans are breaking their pledge to cut spending “right now, not next year, but now.”

Yet, the editors of National Review today, while swooning over the latest budget proposal of Paul Ryan (R-WI), lauded the House GOP for an “actual honest-to-God reduction in federal outlays of $32 billion.”

How about we take a look at this with an honest-to-God perspective and the ability to check blind hope for supposed “conservative heroes” at the door?

1. Our national debt is over $14 trillion, climbing exponentially and heavily foreign-owned;
2. Annual spending has more than doubled over the last decade on the watch of both Republicans and Democrats – soon approaching $4 trillion per year – so any “actual cut” is a cut from ASTRONOMICAL spending;
3. Our nation has amassed (as NR’s Kevin Williamson noted last June) $106 trillion in unfunded liabilities (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc…) and we have saved precisely $0 to pay for it just as Baby Boomers retire;
4. Republicans, supposedly recognizing all this, campaigned VERY SPECIFICALLY on cutting spending by returning to pre-bailout, pre-Obama binge levels (i.e. 2008) and doing it immediately; and
5. Non-security spending in 2008 was $378 billion. Non-security spending requested by Obama for 2011 is $478 billion. Paul Ryan’s budget would spend $420 billion. (see here )

So what to do? Praise, criticize or just take the day off and go hit some golf balls?

As much as the latter sounds appealing, Republicans have to be held accountable. They simply are not honoring their “pledge” to return to 2008 spending levels and thus, save $100 billion from the President’s budget. They are hiding behind the fact they will only get 7 months of the year to enact cuts. Yet, they were never vague about this. Consider the following comments from House GOP Whip and Ryan’s fellow self-proclaimed “Young Gun,” Kevin McCarthy, from the Sean Hannity show last September:

MR. HANNITY: … I guess the only question that I think some people may have is, and you have been addressing this, the idea that the contract worked, but then some Republicans lost their way. How does this document hold you accountable?

REP. MCCARTHY: … we lay out… in the Pledge to America that we are going to cut spending. We are going to do it right now, not next year, but now, where we roll them back to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout, save $100 billion right now.

So, to be clear, that was to “roll [spending] back to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout” “right now, not next year, but now…” Uh-huh.

Republicans are spinning their “cuts” as significant simply because they represent an “actual cut,” while trying to sweep their pledge under the rug. To do this, they are getting supposedly conservative stalwarts like the National Review and the Wall Street Journal to do their bidding.

Now, at least the editors of National Review are honest that what Congressman Ryan and the House GOP propose is only a $32 billion cut from 2010 spending – not the $74 billion that Republicans tout, which is a mythical cut off of a proposed Obama budget that was never, and will never be, adopted.

But NR then gets it wrong by clouding their perspective. You could replace $32 billion with $1 and keep the substance of the NR piece in place – because apparently getting any “real” cut is so earth-shatteringly impressive that we should all shout Hosanna… But even more, NR’s editors say we should not “underestimate the magnitude of the political challenge” and then go on to suggest that Senator Rand Paul and Congressman Jeff Flake, who are suggesting much more substantive cuts, need look to the “left and to the right” and recognize that President Obama is in the White House.

I am sure Paul and Flake are very appreciative for the tip and the reminder – and that they will continue to try to remind everyone else, including NR, that it is just a bit ironic to claim “first blood” when our stalwart “leadership” puts a band-aid on literally trillions of dollars of bleeding (of red ink) by cutting $32 billion, especially when the promise was for significantly more than that.

The whole point here is that it was Republicans who campaigned to significantly cut spending – and even wrapped themselves up in the Pledge to Nowhere to try to sell it. Yet, they want to hide behind partial years and how difficult it is rather than actually honor the pledge.

The text of the pledge is as follows:

With common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops, we will roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre- bailout levels, saving us at least $100 billion in the first year alone and putting us on a path to balance the budget and pay down the debt. We will also establish strict budget caps to limit federal spending from this point forward.

In truth, the pledge might as well have been written thusly:

With common sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops, we will roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, saving us [an annualized amount that would be comparable to] at least $100 billion [from a baseline of the President’s propose budget] in the [last three quarters of the] first year [combined with the first quarter of the second year] alone and putting us on a path to balance the budget [in approximately 40 years] and [prevent global financial meltdown by borrowing money from the Chinese] to pay down the debt.

This was such a simple issue. It really is not complicated. Return spending to 2008 levels – for the year. Offer the budget, and let the Senate and the President do what they will. The message is a winner – as last year’s election proved. Why can’t Republicans remember that?

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