It’s not exactly a plan to balance the budget, but Rep. Jim Jordan’s bill scheduled for introduction today which slashes federal spending by some $250 billion per year over the next decade is one conservatives can easily fall in love with – and Democrats on Capitol Hill and the White House are set to have conniptions any minute now.
Jordan (R-OH), chair of the House Republican Study Group, will announce the plan at a Heritage Foundation speech this morning. It doesn’t just call for rolling back federal spending; it calls for eliminating programs and subsidies. The victims are some of the Beltway sacred cows the Tea Party and other conservatives have wanted gone for a long time.
Jordan’s bill, which will have a companion bill introduced in the Senate by Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican, would impose deep and broad cuts across the federal government. It includes both budget-wide cuts on non-defense discretionary spending back to 2006 levels and proposes the elimination or drastic reduction of more than 50 government programs.
Jordan’s “Spending Reduction Act” would eliminate such things as the U.S. Agency for International Development and its $1.39 billion annual budget, the $445 million annual subsidy for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the $1.5 billion annual subsidy for Amtrak, $2.5 billion in high speed rail grants, the $150 million subsidy for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and it would cut in half to $7.5 billion the federal travel budget.
The bill would also roll non-defense discretionary spending back to 2006 levels, reduce the federal civilian work force by 15 percent and institute a federal pay freeze for five years.
It also plows $45 billion in unspent Obama stimulus money back into deficit reduction, sets Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac afloat in the marketplace, which would save $30 billion, and puts $16 billion set to go to states for Medicaid payments into deficit reduction. The last bit might be a bridge too far for state officials on both sides of the aisle.
The question will be whether the GOP leadership will push Jordan’s bill to the floor. Chances are it would pass once it got there, but Harry Reid won’t put a bill like this on the Senate floor for all the panda bears in China.
But a wide-ranging and dramatic set of federal budget cuts encompassing what essentially looks like low-hanging fruit which would be embarrassing for Democrats to oppose is a powerful weapon in the coming fight about increasing the debt ceiling. Sources tell us the GOP strategy will be to only raise that ceiling in dribs and drabs, forcing Obama into a continuous negotiation and essentially begging the House for a few shekels to keep the government running over the next year. As that process continues, elements of Jordan’s plan could well make their way onto the table.