The Republican Study Committee released a breakdown of spending reductions and cuts, which they argue can save $2.5 trillion over the next ten years. Nearly all of the cuts come from the “discretionary spending” portion of the budget, which makes up just 16% of the total federal budget. The Republican plan is to simply push back spending levels to what they were in 2006 and hope for the best. Predictably, the pentagon’s budget is off the chopping block. John Boener spokesman Michael Steele said “our immediate goal is to cut spending to pre-bailout, pre-stimulus levels.” Pre-bailout and stimulus levels for everyone but the defense department.
Some of the measures the RSC recommends make sense. Halving the printing budget to save $47 million in the age of digital information seems like a no brainer. Saving $15 billion by selling off unused federal property is something almost any businessperson would recommend. Eliminating the $1 million mohair subsidy is probably a smart decision, since military uniforms aren’t made out of wool these days. Plenty of the other cuts Republicans recommend however, aren’t only dubious decisions, but wreak of partisan politicking.
Some of the items on the chopping block include $167.5 million from both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, $445 million from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, $1.15 billion from programs created under the National and Community Services act, billions from Amtrak and other public transportation subsidies and plenty more. Essentially, any program that could be called “liberal,” provides a valuable public service or somehow enriches American culture is “wasteful” or otherwise not worth spending money on. Couple that with an axe worth $16.1 billion to Medicaid, a program which helps keep people alive, and the GOP shows its true priorities.
The dream of living tax free while decreasing the deficit means the money has to come from somewhere. But the “anywhere but here” attitude Republicans take in regards to the defense department will not only send Americans’ health and culture into bankruptcy, but also keep us in debt. For example, the Pentagon spends nearly $122 million per plane building the F-35 fighter jet. The 2011 budget calls for more than $11 billion for the planes, none of which have been delivered since development and production began ten years ago. By 2016, the military wants 2,443 F-35s at an estimated cost of close to $329 billion. In other words, by scrapping just one percent of that order, a number that wouldn’t even dent our 20 to one lead in planes over the Chinese military, we would save most of the aforementioned social programs.
The true testament to the state of our union shines through when we talk about “tough decisions” but aren’t willing to consider all the options available. When history looks back and tries to define what we valued most, the results will be glaring. Rather than put our efforts into programs which enrich our lives or help the less fortunate in our society, we’ve chosen to excessively fund the machinations of destruction. The Republican method to solving the budget deficit shows money isn’t the only thing we might be deficient in.