House GOP Proposes Hundreds of Billions in Useless Budget Gimmicks

CNN reports on House Republicans’ efforts to get serious about cutting the budget:

The House Republican leadership upped the ante Thursday in the ongoing debate over the size and scope of the federal budget, unveiling a proposal to cut spending by $375 billion over the next five years. […] President Barack Obama “challenged us to come up with budget savings, and today House Republicans encourage him to not only look over our proposed … common-sense taxpayer savings, but to join our effort,” House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, said in a statement.

It turns out, however, that there’s no real proposal here. Instead, “The bulk of the GOP’s proposed savings would come from capping non-defense discretionary spending at the level of inflation.”

A blanket cap in spending is not a good idea. For one thing, it’s incredibly indiscriminate. For another thing, it’s oddly un-inclusive. If we’re just going to reduce outlays in an arbitrary, across-the-board way, why should defense and Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid be left off the table? Well, presumably they don’t want to cut the defense budget because they think it’s important. But isn’t the FBI important? Prisons? If Medicare’s important, isn’t the CDC important? What would be helped by slashing Pell Grants? When the Obama administration proposed $17 billion in federal spending cuts, the announcement was generally met with mild derision at what a small share of the overall pie that is. But the point is that they found $17 billion dollars worth of cuts that there are actual reasons to believe are worth making. It’s easy to generate a high headline number by being arbitrary. But it’s also easy to do devastating damage to the country.


A much better AP story gets that there are only about $5 billion a year in actual cuts here. And just to piss me off personally, one of the the specific items they want to cut is federal support for bicycle routes. I’ll be the first to admit that not that many people use a bicycle as their primary means of conveyance, but there are about fourty times more of us than George Will realizes, and we’re using a commuting method that’s good for the environment and helps reduce traffic congestion for everyone else. Conservatives seem to have decided that bicycles are funny and un-American, like Puerto Rican food and volcano monitoring, but I don’t really see what their reasoning is.