Behind the Scenes, Boehner Saving Taxpayers Millions

Posted: Apr 27, 2013 8:00 AM

House Speaker John Boehner took a lot of heat in January when he rubber-stamped the president’s job-crushing tax increases. Indeed, an entire movement sprang up on Twitter -- symbolized by the hashtag #FireBoehner -- in the weeks prior to the “compromise” urging conservative members of Congress to oust him from his position of leadership in part because he publicly proposed tax hikes as part of the negotiations. The initiative failed, of course, but that didn’t stop Republicans from bristling at Boehner’s supposed betrayal and questioning his leadership. Now, it seems, that’s all water under the bridge -- at least for now.

Today, however, and unlike the president, the leader of the lower chamber is actually serious about cutting operational spending -- which is estimated to save taxpayers some $400 million by January 2014 (via USA Today):

The House of Representatives will spend 15% less on its own operations this year than it did three years ago under a cost-cutting effort launched by Speaker John Boehner that is on pace to save taxpayers more than $400 million by the end of this year

When Republicans took control of the House in January 2011, Boehner, the new speaker, said cutting House spending would be a priority.

Since then, House lawmakers have seen a nearly 20% decrease in their office budgets. Three years ago, the average lawmaker had an annual $1.5 million budget, which is down to $1.2 million. Those budgets — which vary by office — cover everything from staff salaries to district office rent and bottled water.

The graph below illustrates just how serious House Republicans are about cutting spending under Boehner’s leadership:

 photo HouseSavings_zps4e18a22e.png

I imagine that serving as Speaker of the House in 2013 is no easy task. In many ways, the Republican Party is fractured along ideological and political lines, and thus finding compromise on every issue is probably difficult. That Boehner was about to find a way to unite his party (namely, by cutting wasteful federal spending) is commendable -- especially because Democrats in the Senate are refusing to implement the same exact cost-savings measures. Go figure.

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