The Republican Study Committee (RSC) today released a plan that supposedly outlines $2.5 trillion in spending cuts over ten years. But as I pointed out earlier, only $330 billion of the $2.5 trillion is specified, while the rest is simply hand-waving about keeping non-defense discretionary spending at the 2006 level for a decade. As TPM’s Brian Buetler put it, “In other words, it punts the question of what to cut to future Congresses, which could just as easily bust the cap.”
Today, Rep. John Campbell (R-CA), an RSC member, appeared on Fox News with Neil Cavuto, and Cavuto also evidently noticed that the vast bulk of the RSC’s savings come from unspecified cuts. When he asked Campbell explain how the RSC magically turned $330 billion into $2.5 trillion, Campbell dropped the ball:
CAVUTO: I don’t want to pick it apart too much, because you always appreciate the efforts at spending cuts, but a lot of these eliminations and reductions, Congressman, realistically come to $330 billion of the $2.5 trillion of proposed cuts. So, in other words, the real meat, up-front cuts, while still substantial, about $330 billion, ain’t the $2.5 trillion. So what is the more realistic figure?
CAMPBELL: The more realistic figure than the two, oh, you mean other than what’s listed on here?
Campbell then proceeded to incorrectly claim that the $2.5 trillion in savings is a result of multiplying the $330 billion in specific cuts out over a ten year budget window, which would actually amount to more than $2.5 trillion in savings.
It’s not surprising, of course, that the RSC would be hesitant to place on paper the practical implications of its plan. Returning non-defense discretionary spending to the 2006 level — and then keeping it there — would result in billions of dollars in cuts to vital and popular programs and agencies like Pell Grants, the FBI, the Coast Guard, the National Institutes of Health and the federal prison system.
As Steve Benen pointed out, the RSC’s plan would also be “devastating” for the labor market. “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,” he wrote. “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.” If you’re interested in a legitimate deficit reduction plan, go here.