On October 15, 2008, well after the financial collapse had begun, President Barack Obama promised the American people during the third presidential debate: “What I’ve done throughout this campaign is to propose a net spending cut.” The verdict is out on how many Americans believed President Obama then, but the verdict is in on his first two years in office: instead of a net spending cut, federal spending has exploded. Since 2008, federal spending has surged from $25,000 to $30,000 per household. And under President Obama’s budget it would reach $36,000 per household by 2020. Even if Congress allowed President Obama’s preferred tax hikes to become law, his budget would double the national debt to more than $20 trillion by 2020.
With these facts in mind, CBS News’ Chip Reid asked the President yesterday: “Republicans say more than anything else what this election was about was spending. … Do you accept the fact that any kind of spending to create jobs is dead at this point?” The President responded: “I think the American people are absolutely concerned about spending and debt — and deficits.” Good for the President for acknowledging these concerns. But after providing lip service to concerns about spending the President then went on to talk about all the “investments” he wanted to make in supertrains, supercomputers, and Singapore’s airport. The President just can’t help himself: he is addicted to federal spending. And it is the next Congress’ job to make him to stop.
Congress must craft a solution for our nation’s long term entitlement spending problems. But our nation’s economy also needs a strong signal that this Congress is serious about cutting spending now. That will let job creators know that their taxes are not destined to be higher. Specifically, Congress must Get to Work immediately:
Stop Digging: Any new unemployment assistance should be offset by spending cuts elsewhere. Any remaining unobligated TARP funds should be rescinded before they can be allocated to new spending. Most important, lawmakers must repeal Obamacare, a ticking spending and deficit time bomb.
Freeze Spending: Congress must by law ensure that the total amount of discretionary budget authority for the Federal Government in fiscal year 2011 cannot exceed the total amount in fiscal year 2010.
Cut Spending: Congress must immediately cut at least $170 billion from the federal budget (CBO baseline) for fiscal year 2012. This is only a significant and plausible first step – more will be necessary.
Ban Corporate Welfare: Lawmakers should reform America’s largest corporate welfare program—farm subsidies, which are overwhelmingly distributed to large, profitable agribusinesses rather than struggling family farmers. Other corporate welfare programs like the Technology Innovation Program should be eliminated.
Bring Federal Pay in Line with the Private Sector: Congress should bring equity to federal pay and align federal compensation with market rates. When fully implemented it would save taxpayers approximately $47 billion a year.
Today at 11 AM, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will give a special address at The Heritage Foundation (you can watch his remarks live on Facebook, here). According to his office, Sen. McConnell will make his own spending promise to the American people: “We will vote to freeze and cut discretionary spending. We will fight to make sure that any spending bill that reaches the Senate floor is amendable, so members can vote for the spending cuts Americans are asking for. We will push to bring up and vote for House passed spending rescission bills.”
This is a good start. But it is just that: a start. The conservative movement, the Tea Party, and the American people must be vigilant. We must pay close attention to what this Congress does and be prepared to hold them accountable. That is why The Heritage Foundation has created the Solutions for America: Get to Work checklist. The first item on the list: Freeze and Cut Spending. This is part of a five part series outlining the five overriding actions, representing the BARE MINIMUM REQUIRED for Congress to fulfill its electoral mandate.