Friday, January 21, 2011

House GOP group proposes $2.5T in budget cuts

A group of conservative House Republicans is hungry for more spending cuts, unveiling a plan to chop $2.5 trillion from the federal budget.

The proposal by the House Republican Study Committee, which represents about two-thirds of the GOP conference, cuts deeper than leaders such as Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan would like.

The group's plan is driven by voters, including those in the Tea Party movement, who swept Republicans into the House amid promises to cut spending and reduce the nation's debt.

"If we don't do something like this, the Republican Party is going to be in trouble electorally in the next two years," freshman Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., said in The Washington Post.

"The voters sent us here to do this," he said.

The plan was unveiled Thursday.

If the study committee had its way, the federal government would no longer support Amtrak, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The federal workforce would also be cut and pay raises for government workers eliminated for five years under the plan.

The group also proposes eliminating about $210 million a year for the District of Columbia that helps the city for such things as lost revenue because federal land isn't taxed.

"Unless Washington acts soon to cut spending, massive tax hikes, economic stagnation, and national bankruptcy will rob our children of the opportunity to reach for the American Dream," said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, chairman of the study group.

A spokesman for Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, called the GOP proposal "radical."

"The likelihood of this becoming law is around zero, but even putting forward a plan that puts more people out of work and endangers our economic recovery calls into question how serious the GOP is about tackling our nation's most difficult challenges," Doug Thornell, Van Hollen's spokesman, told ABC News.

The plan shows a rift developing in the GOP: The group is calling for an immediate $100 billion budget cut, while Ryan has said something around $80 billion is more realistic.

"We want more," freshman Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., said in The New York Times.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., vowed to have an "open process" when lawmakers try to write a budget.

"I applaud the Republican Study Committee for proposing cuts in federal spending, and I look forward to the discussion on reducing spending that our country so desperately needs to have," he said in a statement.

By Catalina Camia, USA TODAY

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