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Republican Study Group Issues Proposed Budget Cuts

Ryan Grim – | HuffPost Reporting

First Posted: 01/20/11 12:01 PM  Updated: 01/20/11 01:01 PM

Leading conservative House Republicans announced Thursday some specific programs they plan to target in service of their campaign pledge to cut government spending.

The proposal by the Republican Study Committee, a conservative House GOP caucus, aims to return non-defense spending to 2008 levels and non-security spending to 2006 levels. It would cut funding for veterans programs, scientific research at the Department of Energy, Homeland Security, transportation, housing, education, legal services, foreign aid and the arts, according to a summary released by the RSC.

Republican leadership has been slowly backing off a campaign pledge to cut $100 billion from the budget this year, given the political difficulty of the task. The proposal from the the RSC, led by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), is a direct challenge to House Speaker John Boehner to follow the lead of the Tea Party. But the cuts to veterans aid and other programs popular across the political spectrum will prove tough to defend. Democrats, meanwhile, will charge the proposal with exacerbating the nation’s unemployment crisis and the suffering of the jobless.

“Our immediate goal to cut spending to pre-bailout, pre-stimulus levels,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said. “That’s what we pledged, and that’s what we’ll fight for. But that will be the beginning, not the end, of our efforts to cut spending and create jobs – and we appreciate every Member’s input.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the cuts would get an up-or-down vote on the floor during the upcoming debate over resolutions to address the expiration of the continuing resolution (CR) that currently funds the government as a result of congressional failure to pass a budget last year.

“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. “As promised, we will have an open process when it comes to spending bills. I look forward to these cuts and others being brought to the floor for an up-or-down vote during consideration of the CR, and I support that effort.”

Unfortunately for the RSC, the most high-profile of their proposed cuts would have little impact on the deficit. Eliminating the Corporation for Public Broadcasting subsidy and the National Endowment for the Arts saves $445 million and $167.5 million, respectively. The national debt is pushing $14 trillion. Eliminating the “Mohair Subsidy” would save a million dollars.

Some of the cuts would shift costs to states. The proposal would save an estimated $16.1 billion by rolling back federal Medicaid funding, putting the burden for those patients on state and local governments instead.

The effects of some elements of the proposal are more difficult to predict. The proposal would eliminate federal control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, saving an estimated $30 billion over 10 years, but the effect on the housing market is uncertain, and could wind up draining money from state and federal coffers.

The plan would reduce federal spending by $2.5 trillion over a decade, according to the summary.

A list of specific cuts the RSC is proposing:

➢ Corporation for Public Broadcasting Subsidy. $445 million annual savings. ➢ Save America’s Treasures Program. $25 million annual savings.➢ International Fund for Ireland. $17 million annual savings. ➢ Legal Services Corporation. $420 million annual savings. ➢ National Endowment for the Arts. $167.5 million annual savings. ➢ National Endowment for the Humanities. $167.5 million annual savings. ➢ Hope VI Program. $250 million annual savings. ➢ Amtrak Subsidies. $1.565 billion annual savings. ➢ Eliminate duplicative education programs. H.R. 2274 (in last Congress), authored by Rep. McKeon, eliminates 68 at a savings of $1.3 billion annually. ➢ U.S. Trade Development Agency. $55 million annual savings. ➢ Woodrow Wilson Center Subsidy. $20 million annual savings. ➢ Cut in half funding for congressional printing and binding. $47 million annual savings. ➢ John C. Stennis Center Subsidy. $430,000 annual savings. ➢ Community Development Fund. $4.5 billion annual savings. ➢ Heritage Area Grants and Statutory Aid. $24 million annual savings. ➢ Cut Federal Travel Budget in Half. $7.5 billion annual savings. ➢ Trim Federal Vehicle Budget by 20%. $600 million annual savings. ➢ Essential Air Service. $150 million annual savings. ➢ Technology Innovation Program. $70 million annual savings. ➢ Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Program. $125 million annual savings. ➢ Department of Energy Grants to States for Weatherization. $530 million annual savings. ➢ Beach Replenishment. $95 million annual savings. ➢ New Starts Transit. $2 billion annual savings. ➢ Exchange Programs for Alaska, Natives Native Hawaiians, and Their Historical Trading Partners in Massachusetts. $9 million annual savings. ➢ Intercity and High Speed Rail Grants. $2.5 billion annual savings. ➢ Title X Family Planning. $318 million annual savings. ➢ Appalachian Regional Commission. $76 million annual savings. ➢ Economic Development Administration. $293 million annual savings. ➢ Programs under the National and Community Services Act. $1.15 billion annual savings. ➢ Applied Research at Department of Energy. $1.27 billion annual savings. ➢ FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership. $200 million annual savings. ➢ Energy Star Program. $52 million annual savings. ➢ Economic Assistance to Egypt. $250 million annually. ➢ U.S. Agency for International Development. $1.39 billion annual savings. ➢ General Assistance to District of Columbia. $210 million annual savings. ➢ Subsidy for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. $150 million annual savings. ➢ Presidential Campaign Fund. $775 million savings over ten years. ➢ No funding for federal office space acquisition. $864 million annual savings. ➢ End prohibitions on competitive sourcing of government services. ➢ Repeal the Davis-Bacon Act. More than $1 billion annually. ➢ IRS Direct Deposit: Require the IRS to deposit fees for some services it offers (such as processing payment plans for taxpayers) to the Treasury, instead of allowing it to remain as part of its budget. $1.8 billion savings over ten years. ➢ Require collection of unpaid taxes by federal employees. $1 billion total savings. ➢ Prohibit taxpayer funded union activities by federal employees. $1.2 billion savings over ten years. ➢ Sell excess federal properties the government does not make use of. $15 billion total savings. ➢ Eliminate death gratuity for Members of Congress. ➢ Eliminate Mohair Subsidies. $1 million annual savings. ➢ Eliminate taxpayer subsidies to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. $12.5 million annual savings. ➢ Eliminate Market Access Program. $200 million annual savings. ➢ USDA Sugar Program. $14 million annual savings. ➢ Subsidy to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). $93 million annual savings. ➢ Eliminate the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program. $56.2 million annual savings. ➢ Eliminate fund for Obamacare administrative costs. $900 million savings. ➢ Ready to Learn TV Program. $27 million savings.

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