Evidently, George Will isn’t the only one who’s into recycling discredited ideas these days. In response to House Democrats unveiling an omnibus appropriations bill — which consists of nine fiscal 2009 appropriations bills that President George Bush threatened to veto — House Republicans have called for an across-the-board spending freeze.
In a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the GOP explained its rationale:
At a time of record deficits, a freeze would allow the federal government to keep functioning at current spending levels without requiring beleaguered taxpayers to pay for new spending increases. Congress could ensure that essential government functions are carried out without any cuts while still protecting taxpayers from spending increases during a time of economic hardship.
The letter was signed by Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI).
Boehner also independently called for Congress to “pass a clean bill that freezes spending at current levels,” while Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) jumped on the bandwagon. Remember, though, that this is the same “solution” to the country’s budget woes that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) put forth during the presidential campaign. It’s also old hat for Pence, who pushed for a spending freeze back in 2004.
As we noted when McCain made his proposal, freezing spending would allow inflation to eat away at funding for vital programs, including Pell Grants, Head Start and infrastructure investments. It would mean less money, “in real terms,” for just about everything. There are also projects — like the 2010 census — that are already underfunded and need a boost.
But under the current economic circumstances, this is a far more damaging policy then it was six months ago when McCain was touting it. The economic stimulus package’s main purpose is to close the GDP gap and jumpstart the economy by spurring spending by households, government and the private sector. A spending freeze would act as an “anti-stimulus,” cutting spending precisely when it’s too low and the economy is moving too slowly.
Are these Republicans trying to ensure that the stimulus fails? Or is it that this group simply has no new ideas?