GOP Proposes Deep Spending Cuts, Dems Say Bill Threatens Economic Recovery

By John R Parkinson

Feb 11, 2011 9:59pm

ABC News' John R. Parkinson reports:

House Republicans unveiled a spending bill Friday evening to fund the government for the next seven months that they say will reduce the president’s requested spending levels this year by at least $100 billion. House Democrats, however, contend that the GOP is proposing cuts to investments in the country’s future and threatening the economic recovery with “irresponsible spending.” 

H.R. 1 – which is over 350 pages long and establishes government spending levels through the end of September – was filed by the House Appropriations Committee and posted on its website Friday evening, providing lawmakers and the public the required 72 hours to read it online before it comes to the House floor for consideration next week. 

In total, the legislation will cut about $61 billion from current levels on domestic spending. House Republicans say the bill will save American taxpayers more than $100 billion compared to the president’s fiscal year 2011 request. 

The measure calls for $81 billion less than President Obama asked for from Congress in non-security spending.  Defense and security-related programs have been reduced by $19 billion when compared to the president’s request, according to the House Appropriations committee. 

The bill contains no earmark funding and eliminates all earmark funding from fiscal year 2010, saving taxpayers about $8.5 billion, according to the committee. It would also return about $2 billion in unspent stimulus funding that was approved by the Congress nearly two years ago under Democratic control. 

The spending bill would bring total discretionary spending for 2011 down to $1.028 trillion.

House Republicans maintain that the cuts meet their promise in the Pledge to America last fall and that the cuts will begin to bring “order and restore certainty to the economy.”

“At a time when unemployment is too high and economic growth is elusive in part because of the uncertainty created by our skyrocketing debt, this legislation will mark the largest spending cut in modern history and will help restore confidence so that people can get back to work,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said in a statement Friday evening. “These are not easy cuts, but we are finally doing what every other American has to do in their households and their businesses, and that’s to begin a path of living within our means.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi slammed the proposed cuts for targeting critical future investments and said it would threaten the country’s economic recovery.

“Republicans are proposing an irresponsible spending bill that threatens job and economic growth, hampers our global competitiveness, and harms the people hurting most: working families and the middle class,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement. “Democrats are committed to reducing the deficit, beginning with an aggressive attack on waste, fraud, and abuse, while ensuring that we invest in our children’s future, American innovation, and rebuilding our nation.”

With pressure on the House Republican leadership to make deeper cuts, particularly from freshmen lawmakers with ties to the Tea Party, the $61 billion is nearly twice what was outlined last week.

But the House Republicans' proposal would also need to pass the Senate and then gain the approval of President Obama.

Judging from the reaction by the Senate’s Democratic Majority, which has yet to release its own bill, the two chambers might as well be on opposite sides of the Potomac River, rather than opposite sides of Capitol Hill.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye said in a statement that while the “fiscal challenges facing our nation are real,” House Republicans are “pursuing an ineffective approach to deficit reduction.”

“I am disturbed that some Republicans have indicated a willingness to allow a government shutdown. No responsible elected official should even consider such an option,” Inouye, D-Hawaii, said. “We can find the right balance when it comes to discretionary spending – one that meets the essential needs of our citizens while ensuring that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.  I look forward to meeting that challenge in the coming weeks, as we negotiate a final agreement on funding the government for the remainder of the fiscal year.”

Cantor said that the Democrats’ reaction to the GOP’s proposal has been “to stoke fear while offering no credible plan” and said that even more cuts are on the way in the House Budget Committee’s FY2012 budget that is being drafted by Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

“For years Democrats have proposed more government spending to create jobs, resulting in the largest debt and deficits in history while unemployment still remained too high. Republicans believe in free markets and the ability for small businesses and entrepreneurs to keep more of their own money so they can invest, grow their companies and hire employees,” Cantor said. “The Continuing Resolution is just a start, and we have much more work to do to change our country's fiscal path and create jobs.” 

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