House GOP Backing Off $100 Billion Spending Cut Pledge

Erik Wasson for the Hill: “The incoming House Republican majority gained power by pledging to cut $100 billion from the federal budget in its first year in power, but aides confirmed Wednesday that this figure is no longer valid.”

Their explanation is that when they said “cut $100 billion” they meant “cut $100 billion relative to the baseline in Barack Obama’s budget request.” But since congress didn’t pass the president’s budget request, the pledge is now invalid. This is pretty dumb since it’s not like the failure to pass the Obama budget is something that suddenly occurred over Christmas weekend. But whatever. Less cutting is better.

What I’m still kind of confused about is what relationship will there be between Paul Ryan’s budget proposal and the “budget roadmap” for Medicare privatization that Ryan released last year. Presumably Ryan still believes that privatizing Medicare is the key to long-term fiscal sustainability, and I think it would be instructive to see how many of his colleagues agree with him. At the end of the day, whatever you think of Ryan’s idea he’s definitely correct that its changes to Medicare and Medicaid over the long term that really matter, not monkeying around with one year worth of discretionary spending.