Conservatives Flex Muscles on Spending

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As the Conservative Political Action Committee wrapped up its annual conference in Washington, D.C. this weekend, Tea Party Republicans had reason to celebrate after forcing House Republican leaders to make deeper cuts in their budget proposals.

"A hundred billion means a hundred billion," Dean Clancy, legislative counsel for Freedom Works, said. "They knew when the fiscal year started. They knew when they were going to be sworn in, 100 billion means 100 billion, and we insist on it, and we're getting it."

Earlier in the week, House Republicans announced a plan to slash $35 billion from government spending this year.

But more than 80 freshmen Republicans rebuked the leaders' first offer and called for deeper cuts. House GOP leaders listened to the voice emanating from the Tea Party and tripled the proposal.

"We're going to cut more than $100 billion in discretionary spending on this year's account," Speaker John Boehner said Thursday in remarks at the CPAC Conference.

Tea Partiers were enthused by the freshmen's refusal of the initial proposal and the GOP leadership's willingness to heed their call which initially sparked the Tea Party movement -- cut spending.

"This whole movement is about the spending. That's what ignited the whole movement, the out-of-control spending," Tea Party Express chairwoman Amy Kremer said. "We're happy these new representatives and senators have come to Washington and are taking some of the first steps to trim some of the, you know, excess, spending out of the budget."

The Republican proposal would fund the government for the next seven months through the end of the fiscal year, but the proposed cuts are deeper and broader than some anticipated.

"Contrary to the view that they are smaller than people think, they are bigger than people think," said Bob Greenstein, executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The proposed cuts will sweep across multiple agencies from the Environmental Protection Agency to funding for cities and states. Funds for clean drinking water will be slashed in half in addition to making steep cuts in food safety programs.

"It's almost like we are checking a box. We said $100 billion. Here's $100 billion, and they are protected from the consequences of their own, I think, less than responsible actions," Greenstein said.

The Democratic controlled Senate and President Obama are not expected to go along with the proposals set for by the Republicans.

Obama today offered a peek into his budget set to be released Monday, likening it to the way families determine priorities when developing their own budgets.

"Families across this country understand what it takes to manage a budget," Obama said in his weekly address. "They understand what it takes to make ends meet without forgoing important investments like education.

"Well, it's time Washington acted as responsibly as our families do," he said. "And on Monday, I'm proposing a new budget that will help us live within our means while investing in our future."

Obama said he plans to freeze annual domestic spending over the next five years while committing to boost funding for education and "new economy" jobs.

Though Obama's budget may not embrace all the initiatives set forth in the Republican's proposal, Tea Party Republicans are pleased with GOP leadership's decision to delve deeper in cutting spending.

"This is the first fruits of the tea party rebellion, but this is not the end of it," Clancy said. "What this week showed is that the Tea Party is strong is effective, and it's relevant and it's not going away."

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