Spending Cuts Back in Vogue For Some

Reid Ribble
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Posted: Feb 28, 2011 10:36 AM
Spending Cuts Back in Vogue For Some

What’s fashionable in DC these days? It might shock some to learn that “less is in” and cutting spending is finally in vogue.

There’s a good reason, too. “Spending our way to prosperity” failed to produce the promised results.

Democrats have tried spurring our economy with excess Government spending and we watched as the only thing that grew was our debt. If massive government spending worked to create jobs, we shouldn’t be sitting on month 21 of a recession with record high unemployment. We should, in fact, be prospering.

Under the Democrats’ leadership in the House, non-security discretionary spending increased by 24% in just four years (84% if you include stimulus spending). That kind of incredible increase caused voters last November to rightly demand a new direction.

And Republicans are beginning to chart that course to a leaner government.

Last week, House Republicans removed any doubt about whether they would fulfill their campaign promises on spending when we voted to cut nearly $100 billion with our passage of the Continuing Resolution (CR).

Republicans - so far – are governing like we campaigned. This historic freshman class that was sent to Washington with the mandate from voters to cut spending is following through.

The debate has shifted dramatically in a few short months. Now members of Congress debate for hours on the House floor over how much money we should CUT from government not how much we should increase.

That shift occurred as leaders in both parties owned up to the idea that we can’t increase spending indefinitely without consequences.

President Obama, Treasury Secretary Geithner, Congressional Budget Office Director Olmendorf and Office of Management and Budget Director Lew all have suggested that America is on an unsustainable economic trajectory. House Republicans couldn’t agree more.

That’s why we voted to begin reining in spending and it’s why we’re encouraging Sen. Reid to do the same with the Senate’s vote on the CR. Anything less is simply irresponsible. We can’t continue to push trillion dollar deficits onto the backs of the next generation.

For all the weeping and gnashing of teeth from some over their shrinking piece of the pie, let’s put the cuts in perspective.

The cuts in the Continuing Resolution represent a mere two-tenths of one percent of the entire U.S. economy. Not exactly the end of the world scenario that some paint.

And according to a recent Gallup poll, 25% of Americans think the Republican plan to cut spending is about right, while another 37% would like to see spending reduced even more. In other words, 62% say spending cuts should at least reach the level approved by the House last week.

In our effort to return Washington spending to 2008, pre-bailout, pre-stimulus spending levels, we have been somehow accused of gouging programs. These cuts aren’t draconian or severe, though all acknowledge some very good programs will have to make due with less. This may be difficult but when you are out of money, you have to stop spending.

The spending cuts passed by the House will help spur this economy and create jobs. Reining in spending and debt helps our economy grow by giving job creators confidence again. That’s the confidence they need to take risks and create new private sector jobs.

As a Freshman member of the House Budget Committee, I’ve seen some eye popping figures lately. A child born today immediately inherits $45,000 of debt. And that number grows every day we fail to act.

My grandchildren’s future was the main reason I ran for Congress in the first place. Avoiding the hard choices now means a bleak outlook when they become adults.

So while the fight rages over how much to cut, remember that it’s at least a fight now over how much less – and I hope that remains fashionable for a long time.

Reid Ribble represents Wisconsin’s’ 8th Congressional District and is a member of the House Budget Committee. He can be reached at ribble@house.gov.