Monday, January 24, 2011

Republicans Propose Significant Cuts

The Republicans keep impressing. This time, the influential Republican Study Committee issued a list of cuts they want to make in the budget. The headline number is less than inspiring at only $2.5 trillion over ten years. But what does impress me is the long term effect these changes would have on our country.

As I said, the $2.5 trillion in cuts don’t thrill me. This represents only a 7% cut in the budget, which is not very impressive. But when you start looking at some of the things they are proposing, you see some radical thinking which will go a long way toward stopping the government from using tax dollars to prop up leftists. Consider the following:

1. Repeal of the Davis Bacon Act: The Davis Bacon Act requires government contractors to pay their employees the “prevailing wage rates” determined by the Department of Labor. Why does this matter? Because this makes non-union labor as expensive as union labor. In effect, Davis Bacon is intended to eliminate the handicap unions have given themselves so that unions can remain competitive. Repealing this law will deal a serious blow to private sector unions throughout the United States. Annual savings: $1 billion.

2. Eliminate the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Subsidy: For decades, a horde of leftists has dominated public television and public radio. They’ve survived in a taxpayer-funded bubble that let them completely ignore the views and sensibilities of the American public. This proposal will end that support and force them to start satisfying the market place, i.e. the taxpaying public, or go out of business. Annual savings: $445 million.

3. Eliminate the Legal Services Corporation: You’ve heard of public defenders? This is the same thing for civil cases. Here’s why this is wrong. A public defender protects a person who has been accused by the government of a crime. They make sure the government can’t run people over. That’s good. But the LSC does the opposite, it uses government funding to run people over. The LSC uses federal money to sue private individuals on behalf of “poor people," who are often acting as fronts for leftist public policy institutes. Typical targets include corporations, small businesses, landlords, and even government agencies. In other words, the government is giving your tax money to leftist groups so they can sue you to push through leftist policy. Annual savings: $420 million.

4. National Endowment for the Arts/Nation Endowment for the Humanities: For decades, the government has used taxpayer funds to promote “art” and “theater” that promotes leftist, anti-American, anti-capitalist, anti-religious ideas. Under these programs, the federal government has paid for everything from crucifixes dipped in urine to homosexual and sadomasochistic photography to pro-Obama plays. Essentially, the government has propped up a cabal of leftist “artists” on your dime. Annual savings $335 million.

5. Amtrak Subsidies: Amtrak is a failure. It’s also regional robbery. Indeed, poor and middle class taxpayers all over the country have been paying so that rich, liberal Northeasterners could ride heavily-subsidized trains. Now they even want to build a trillion dollar high speed rail system in selected liberal states. . . that's called a "hidden economic stimulus." If you want it, you pay for it. Annual savings $1.565 billion. Vastly underestimated annual saving from canceling high speed rail: $2.5 billion.

6. US Agency for International Development (USAID): These are the people who take money from steelworkers in Ohio and send that money to China to help them build steel mills that take away steel jobs in Ohio, all in the name of developing markets to which US companies can sell their products. . . which are now made overseas. Annual savings: $1.39 billion.

7. Eliminate subsidies to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: These are the people who issue false reports and fraudulent data all in the name of destroying the American economy to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. . . climate change. Annual savings: $12.5 million.

8. Federal Employees: Elimination of automatic pay increases for civilian federal workers for five years and a 15% reduction in the federal work force through attrition by hiring only one new worker for every two that leave. This is a good start, though I would like more. But this achieves two things. First, it starts to bring federal pay back in line with the pay earned by the people paying their salaries. Secondly, it potentially reduces the strength of federal unions by 15% or 150,000.

As you can see, none of these changes will result in huge dollar savings in the budget, but the effects are significant. If these changes are made, the Republicans will eliminate most of the nests of leftist that have survived by clinging to taxpayer support. Everything from leftist “journalists” to “artists” to unions to legal “public interest” groups will lose their funding and will need to fend for themselves. Moreover, we will stop supporting foreign companies that take away American jobs, and this will eliminate a huge hidden subsidy paid to liberal states like Massachusetts, New York and California.

This would go a long way to breaking the back of the "leftist establishment" by cutting off their unearned funding and making them have to state their case with the open market. And that would be a significant change.


Tennessee Jed said...

This is the best post from upu in a long time. Oh, I don't mean that it is better written or others were not excellent. Perhaps better said, it is just the post that has uplifted my spirits the most. These are the kind of government wasteful spending that has turned my stomach. Now, if we can get them negotiated through the senate and president . . . .

Tennessee Jed said...

upu was supposed to be "you" Andrew. bad typing on my part.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Thanks! :-)

I was pretty happy to see this too. Like I say, the headline number isn't a big deal, but the details are very, very positive!

This is the kind of thing that really does change the government and political culture and can help set us on the right course!

BevfromNYC said...

TJ - I think we should call Andrew "Upu" from now on. It sounds important and cult leader-ish.

My faves:
- Require collection of unpaid taxes by federal employees. $1 billion total savings.

- Prohibit taxpayer funded union activities by federal employees. $1.2 billion savings over ten years.

- Beach Replenishment. $95 million annual savings. {Why do I think this was going to Barbra Streisand?}

- Eliminate death gratuity for Members of Congress. {They can die on their own dime...}

- Eliminate Mohair Subsidies. $1 million annual savings.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, "Upu" does sound kind of cult-leader like! All we need now are celebrity followers and soon we can start collecting everyone's assets and assigning them airports -- kind of like franchise licenses! :-)

"They can die on their own dime!" LOL!

I like all the changes they offered, though I do want to see more. Still, I think the whole list shows that they really are thinking about how to change the government, not just how to cut the overall budget. I think that's a great sign!

And I think you're right about the beach. It totally sounds like something being done for some Hollywood star.

AndrewPrice said...

By the way, here is the link to the list of cuts:

Read Me

T_Rav said...

Upu, you've gone and got me feeling good about the GOP again, for which I'm not sure to be thankful or apprehensive in case they pull the rug out from under us in the future.

Of course everyone will make a stink about the public broadcasting thing. "But they want to kill Big Bird!" I hope the Republicans can make an effective pitch for these cuts: just say, "If we're serious about getting the budget under control, we've got to start somewhere." That, and when the Left holds up pictures of Big Bird, hold up tapes of the recent PBS documentary glorifying Communist Cuba. That might do the trick.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, You're sort of welcome! :-)

I'm also always hesitant to feel too happy about the Republicans. They have disappointed too much in the past. But so far at least, they've done a pretty job since the election, and this is just one more solid indicator of that. In particular, this seems to indicate that the Republicans for once understand the problem.

In the past, they've occasionally fallen into good policies, but it always seemed to be by accident. They never seemed to grasp the real problems. But this time does seem to be different. So I'm cautiously optimistic.

In terms of PBS, they should also start talking about having PBS exploit its own properties (like Big Bird) as a means to generate the funding they need, and to argue that PBS doesn't need public funds to survive because of that.

That would get the left trying to counter the argument by saying that unpopular programs (like the Cuba thing) would vanish because they couldn't get Big Bird funding (apparently Big Bird doesn't share). And that would highlight how much of their stuff is crap and how they mask that by pointing to the one or two good programs they have. The Republicans should also point out that in the world of a History Channel, a Discovery Channel, an Animal Channel, etc., there's just no need to a PBS anymore.

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. T-Rav, As leader of the cult, I think our first duty should be to go to Chicago O'Hare and pass out anti-Rahm literature. We don't want him becoming mayor of Chicago. . . oh wait, that fell through today! LOL!!


BevfromNYC said...

I agree with our Upu. This is a good start. Now I want to see more. And instead of the Dems poo-pooing this list, they need to make one of their own to add to it.

FYI - Colin Powell, our RINO poster child, weighed in yesterday saying that cutting funding to the NPR wouldn't help balance the budget. Thanks Colin...

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, In truth, I would be happy to see the Democrats add to the list. I don't think Republican sacred cows should get funding anymore than I think Democratic sacred cows should get funding.

I would love to see both sides start detailing all of the spending that the government shouldn't be doing. And then we can cut it all. Now that would be bipartisanship I could approve of!

In terms of Colin, he needs to just disappear from the public eye. He's like the only person left at the dance of the RINOs when all of the others have already fled. He's all alone in the middle of the dance floor speaking a strange language no one cares about or believes anymore.

Not to mention that of course it will help reduce the budget deficit! What kind of moron thinks that subtracting spending won't help reduce the budget deficit? Did he flunk kindergarten math? "No Colin, 5 minus 1 is not 6."

Unknown said...

As you say, it's a start--and not half-bad. The longest journey starts with a single step.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, True. And some cuts are more significant than others.

JG said...

I know it's just 7%, but $2.5 trillion still sounds like a lot to me. :) And I agree, the nature of the cuts is more exciting the the actual dollar amount. This is a great starting point.

AndrewPrice said...

JG, The problem with the $2.5 trillion figure is that it's a 10 year figure. On a yearly basis, it's only $250 billion, which is not very big considering the size of our budget and how much it's grown in just 2 years. But it is a start, even that would be an incredible change compared to where we were headed!

And really, the key thing here is the nature of the cuts, which tell me that our guys finally are "getting it." They just can't keep letting the government protect and support the opposition. So I'm thrilled that they've identified these items as spending cuts because it tells me that they finally understand the problem.

All of this is making me very optimistic about the new Republicans. :-)

Tennessee Jed said...

Wow, Bev . . . look what we've gone and done :-)

T_Rav said...

Upu (I promise to stop soon), the only problem with Rahm's misfortune is that it means Carol Moseley-Braun would probably be the next mayor of Chicago. I read somewhere this afternoon where someone described that as a rapid bleed-out for the city, as opposed to the slow decay a la Daley it would have gotten under Emanuel. But if you're looking for cultish activities to perform, I guess we could start pelting all the candidates with dead fish wrapped in newspapers.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I've already rented a compound and I'm looking into a cheap supplier for robes! ;-)

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, Good thinking! And we should make sure that the newspapers are all obscured, like the Beijing Bugle or something! Something to keep people wondering what our secret meaning could be! :-)

I saw that Mosely-Brown would be the likely winner if Rahm couldn't run and I agree that would probably be disasterous. But this might just be what Chicago needs -- a wake up call to the dangers of liberalism. I know it seems harsh, but sometimes, it's better to let people hit bottom fast than to cushion their slow slide. I'd hate to see Chicago damaged (as it is a really neat city), but it might be better to get it over with now and start rebuilding than to just keep letting it decay for decade after decade?

Joel Farnham said...

Andrew or Upu (what ever floats your boat),

These cuts represent a significant departure of thinking. I hope they get passed.

At the very least, the liberals who back these programs will have to justify their existence and expose for all to see their character. Like the backing of ObamaCare exposed liberal cockroaches to the light.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, That's what excites me: that this does represent a different way of thinking. I know in the past some Republicans have talked about ending the funding for NPR and PBS, but I rarely got the sense they understood the reason why that funding should be ended -- rather than just seeing it as wasteful spending. This list tells me that these Republicans are getting it that they need to cut off the government-provided funding spigot to these leftist groups. And I find that exciting. It's like our side suddenly got smart!

Pittsburgh Enigma said...

This is all very encouraging, assuming most of it can get through the Senate and be approved by Obama.

So, should we be sending you all our money and saying goodbye to our families now? :-D

AndrewPrice said...

Pitts, Start sending the money, but don't tell your families what you're doing -- unless you think they might want to join too! ;-)

I agree that this will all depend on whether or not they can get these cuts through. I am very encouraged that they are even suggesting it. That tells me they've learned a good deal about what needs to change.

Can they get this through? I'm hopefully, but we'll see. If the House Republicans stand fast, and so far they seem to have the will to do that, I think the Senate will cave in just to get things done. But we'll see. It's something to keep an eye on.

T_Rav said...

Good idea, cult leader. Although it might not work if we use copies of the Beijing Bugle; then the pols would just get confused and ask, "How did you steal my morning paper?"

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, Good point! You'll go far in this cult!

Maybe we should use something more obscure. . . like the New York Times!

No one has ever heard of that, not even the people Bev called to cancel her subscription! LOL!

98ZJUSMC said...

Thanks for itemizing those cuts, Andrew. I very much agree that the cuts themselves, not the total amount, start to hit the leftists where they fester.

I love the cutting PBS and UN funding. Absolute waste of money.

Man. 2.5 trillion represents a 7% cut of the budget............I still have a hard time wrapping my brain around that amount.

Ed said...

I'm starting to have faith in the Republicans. I hope they follow through.

AndrewPrice said...

98ZJUSMC, One of the real dangers about dealing with numbers as large as $2.5 trillion is that the human mind can't quite grasp what that really means. Thus, it becomes very easy for government to spend a few billion here and there without people noticing.

I like your description -- "hit leftists where they fester." Very accurate! And if they get these cuts, I think that will go a long way toward changing our government and public discourse for the better.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I am too, especially with the other things they've done. Right now they're holding the line on demanding budget cuts from Obama for raising the debt ceiling and they've flat out refused to bail out the states.

Yeah, let's hope they follow through.

Writer X said...

Good start. I would also like to see more severe cuts to UN funding. The GOP has a chance to make a serious impact and this is definitely going in the right direction.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, I agree. These are a great start. So now we have to see if they can get these and then what they offer us next by way of cuts!

P.S. I'd like to see them cut the UN off. I'd even be "willing" (read happy) to see the UN move from NYC in protest!

Ed said...

I hope so.

CrispyRice said...

LOVE the idea of cutting PBS funding!

What are the chances they will get this through the Senate?

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, I think the chances are good because the Senate is in a bit of chaos these days and that gives the advantage to the unified House. And I suspect Obama won't veto a budget over "small potatoes" like these items. He seems to be shying away from confrontation these days.

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