Budget Compromise Cuts a Minute $38.5 Billion

This post does not reflect the views of any organization. It is strictly my own opinion.

Near the stroke of midnight on Friday, House Republican leaders and the Obama administration agreed to a budget compromise to avert a government shutdown. Even though Democrats had full control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, they refused to pass a budget last year. We’re now six months into the fiscal year without a long-term budget. The new budget compromise will keep the federal government operating until final details of the budget deal are hammered out by next week. The compromise leaves much to be desired. 

The deal only cuts $38.5 billion in spending. That may sound like a huge amount but let’s put that into perspective. Our national debt increased by $54.1 billion in the past eight days while Congress was fighting over whether to cut $38.5 billion. Uncle Sam will spend $3.8 trillion this year. The U.S. deficit will run $1.65 trillion. The federal government spends way more than it actually takes in. The reality is that the budget deal cuts barely one percent of our budget and two percent of our deficit. The budget deal still leaves us with a record deficit. These measly cuts barely scratch the surface of our fiscal problems. 

These billions of dollars in cuts are preferable to simply freezing spending. However, the American people did not elect Republicans to nimble around the edges of the budget. Our financial problems are so dire that we need dramatic slashes to the budget. For the past three weeks, Republican leaders  demanded that the budget include $61 billion in cuts. Democrats were refusing to cut anymore than $30 billion. Both amounts are tiny compared to our massive deficit. If those are the only option however, cutting $61 billion is the best plan.

Both sides were unable to agree over a minute $30 billion in cuts. On Friday night, the House Republican leadership caved in to the pressure. Many were hopeful that the Republican leadership would stand their ground no matter what it took. However, they feared sticking to their guns would create political blowback if it shut down the government. They eventually accepted a compromise from President Obama to cut only $38.5 billion. That’s 63 percent of what they had originally pledged. We need brave leaders who are willing to put principles over politics. 

The budget compromise does however include quite a few positive aspects. The agreement reached guarantees a Senate debate and vote on legislation that would completely repeal ObamaCare. The House already passed such historic legislation in January by a vote of 245 to 189. Without such a budget compromise, Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) would likely never bring this repeal legislation to a vote. The deal also denies increased federal funding for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to hire additional agents to enforce ObamaCare and numerous issues on the Obama administration’s agenda. It will also require mandatory annual audits of the so-called Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that was set up by the Dodd-Frank law or the “Federal Reserve Empowerment Law.” All of these steps are important to roll back the government takeover of our health and financial industries.

It took us many years to get into our current fiscal mess and we aren’t going to solve it overnight. Congress is finally discussing fiscal policies on our terms by discussing how much they should cut from the budget. We may not be fully satisfied by the actual amount. But we should acknowledge that they’re actually cutting rather than adding to the budget like they usually do. The debate in Washington has certainly started to shift due to the growing voice of limited government activists. We should now focus on larger fights such as the upcoming 2012 budget and the debt ceiling. It’s up to us to let them know that we expect even greater cuts from our elected officials in the future.

We are facing a $14.2 trillion national debt. This is not the time to simply trim around the budget’s edges. Washington cannot get its fiscal house in order by cutting less than one percent of the budget. Last November, voters sent a clear message that we want substantial cuts to government spending. That means axing entire departments and programs. It even means putting defense spending on the cutting board. Some lawmakers have serious proposals on the table to rein in government spending including Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) who has a plan to balance the budget in just five years. The debate in Washington should be focused on these real spending cut proposals rather than cutting a measly $38.5 billion from the budget.

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