Republican Study Committee lays down a radical ‘marker’ on spending

REPUBLICAN STUDY COMMITTEE LAYS DOWN A RADICAL ‘MARKER’ ON SPENDING…. The new House GOP majority suffered some embarrassment a couple of weeks ago when party leaders backed off a promise to cut $100 billion from the budget in their first year.

This week, a leading right-wing contingent within the Republican caucus is pushing hard in the other direction.

A caucus of conservative Republicans unveiled a proposal on Thursday that would trim federal spending by $2.5 trillion over 10 years.

Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said Thursday that the RSC will be using the plan as a “marker” in the fight over the continuing resolution that will fund the government after March 4. […]

Jordan said he has not talked to his party’s leadership about moving the bill, but House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Thursday he supports the plan being brought up for a separate up-or-down vote during floor consideration of the continuing resolution for the rest of 2011.

The Republican Study Committee has quite a laundry list in mind. These folks actually map out cutting $2.5 trillion from the budget without touching Social Security, Medicare, or even a single penny of Pentagon spending.

To get there, these Republicans would go after plenty of familiar targets: the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Endowment for the Arts, Amtrak, and U.S. Agency for International Development. But given that the U.S. just doesn’t spend that much on any of this, the Republican Study Committee has to dig much deeper, going after transportation and infrastructure projects, energy research, aid to states, legal assistance for low-income families, family planning funds, and assistance to American businesses seeking to export their products overseas.

(Even this doesn’t come close to $2.5 trillion over 10 years. The RSC makes up the difference by playing some budget games. Brian Beutler explained, “Like most major spending cut proposals, this one’s not entirely rigorous. It relies principally on an aspirational spending cap — specifically, limiting non-defense appropriations totals to their 2006 levels without adjusting for inflation. In other words, it punts the question of what to cut to future Congresses, which could just as easily bust the cap.”)

All of these cuts are necessary, the Republican Study Committee believes, because large deficits call for broad sacrifices. This is, of course, the same Republican Study Committee that demanded massive tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, without paying for them, all of which was financed by larger deficits.

The likelihood of these cuts actually passing is non-existent, but it is a helpful snapshot of Republican priorities. But also note perhaps the most important detail about a plan such as this one: it would be devastating for American jobs. Indeed, if lawmakers were to get together to plot how Congress could deliberately increase unemployment, their plan would look an awful lot like this one. The RSC proposal would deliberately fire thousands of civilian workers, force states to make sweeping job cuts, and lay off thousands more who work in transportation and infrastructure.

Instead of working on creating jobs, we’re left with a new House majority that either (a) wants to ignore the problem; or (b) wants to deliberately make it worse. For all the Republican excitement about the midterm results, I suspect the GOP just wasn’t listening very closely to what Americans said they’re concerned about most.