Herman Cain, Joe Paterno and President Obama’s “hot mic” bashing of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dominated the news last week. Underreported and significantly more important was news federal spending increased in 2011 by $145 billion. That’s right, federal spending is still going up.
Just over a year ago, conservatives around the country rejected President Obama’s big-government agenda. Prior to the election, House Republicans pledged to “roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels.” Unfortunately, President Obama and his big-government allies did not share that goal, making real spending cuts hard to enact.
Conservatives gave Republicans control of the U.S. House with the understanding those Republicans would stop President Obama’s agenda in its tracks and begin laying the groundwork for repealing it come 2013. But now, when it comes to spending, some lawmakers seem unwilling to even try. According to Roll Call, “Republican leadership sources” now “concede there is not much left in the domestic discretionary spending pot to cut.”
Read that again: “not much left to cut.”
Earlier this year, House Republicans passed a fiscal year 2012 budget drafted by Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), which would have capped discretionary spending at $1.019 trillion. That would have represented a year-over-year decrease in discretionary spending of about $30 billion. Earlier this year, House Republicans – at least those on the budget committee – had identified the cuts.
Now, after this summer’s debt deal, 2012 spending is expected to surpass last year’s spending by several billion dollars. As some have observed, that will place discretionary spending ABOVE stimulus-era levels. For conservatives, November 2010 was about holding the line, not moving the line higher.
Of the spending increases, Congressman Tom Latham (R-IA), a senior appropriator and close ally of House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), told Roll Call “It’s a done issue. Whether you like it or not, it’s what it is.” That answer is unlikely to satisfy conservatives. A quick look at federal spending reveals plenty of places to cut.