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Will the Republicans Really Cut This Time?


The Republicans promise less intrusive, less expensive government. But will they deliver? In the past, they have said they would shrink the state, but then they came into power and spent more. Consider George W. Bush's eight horrendous years: The budget grew 89 percent — from $1.86 trillion to $3.52 trillion.

Two Republican House members, Scott Garrett of New Jersey, No. 2 on the budget committee, and Bill Huizenga, a freshman from Michigan, say that they really mean to cut.

"I sure plan to," Garrett said.

I asked him to name three things he'd cut.

He paused for a beat, then said, "We spend about a million dollars for mohair subsidies. We need to eliminate that." We sure do. The subsidies were created to make sure America had enough mohair for soldiers' uniforms during World War I. Yet even though uniforms are no longer made of mohair, my former colleague Sam Donaldson collected subsidies because he once raised sheep and goats on his New Mexico ranch. All farm subsidies are a disgusting scam. Get rid of them.

But the mohair scam is a million bucks. It's nothing.

"So let's go up larger then," said Garrett. "How about foreign aid? (C)ut that out, and you would save around $1.3 billion. Right now, we basically pay federal employees ... who are parts of a union to engage in union activity. How about eliminating those dollars? ... (S)ave about $1.2 billion.

"We have come up with a list of over some $2 trillion."

The ones Garrett named, however, are less than 1 percent of $2 trillion. I understand their reluctance to mention the big stuff, given the political opposition, but when will politicians bite that bullet? They need to!

I'm glad the House leadership has talked about cutting spending back to 2008 budget levels. Garrett said: "Some of us would say let's roll it back even further — to '07 or '06 levels."

Why not? Why not cut back to the first Bush budget, in 2002, before his spending orgy? I never got a clear answer to that. "Let's figure out what constitutionally we must be doing and where we have started coloring way outside the lines," Huizenga suggested.

"Two, are (programs) being effective? ... If they are, fund them. If they're not, let's de-fund them."

The Republicans' promised spending cuts are directed at "nondefense discretionary" spending. Fine. Cut that. But "nondefense discretionary" spending is just 15 percent of the budget. The Republicans' pledge leaves out the big stuff: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and what the government calls defense. That's where the big money is.

"Exactly," Garrett said. You could eliminate all nondefense discretionary spending, and you wouldn't solve the problem. You have to go a lot further than that, and that's why we have to touch those other areas."

I pointed out that I don't hear much talk about that.

"Some of us talk about it. You have to touch on each one of these areas and until the American public is cognizant ... that we have to have shared sacrifice."

As a way to get the public involved, Majority Leader Eric Cantor set up "YouCut" back in May — "a first-of-its-kind project ... designed to defeat the permissive culture of runaway spending in Congress. It allows you to vote, both online and on your cell phone, on spending cuts that you want to see the House enact. Each week, we will take the winning item and offer it to the full House for an up-or-down vote."

People voted to eliminate things like federal pay raises and subsidies for Amtrak sleeper cars. But with the House under Democratic control, none of those programs was cut. We'll see if things are different now.

"We'll be able to make those cuts," Garrett said.

I hope so. I wish they'd pass what I call the Stossel Rule: For every new law, Congress has to repeal two old ones.

America is on a path to bankruptcy. It's easy to get bogged down arguing about lots of small cuts, but we'll only make progress by abolishing whole departments and entire missions. I hope the public understands it has to be done.

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "Give Me a Break" and of "Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at <a href="" <>></a>. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at




7 Comments | Post Comment
forget voting online.... I'd like to be able to vote with my tax dollars. Allow me to say how my tax dollars are spent!
Comment: #1
Posted by: Spork
Tue Jan 18, 2011 12:45 PM
A number of years ago, I refered to the "Stossel Rule" as the Wilson Constitutional Amendment and suggest that it stay in effect until the number of laws got below 100.

My suggestion for cutting government is simply ask WHY?
Why does every governmental department have its own legal staff? Do they do something other than look at "porn" sites on their computers.
Why isn't the Coast Guard called the Border Guard? They could handle border issues more effeciently.
Why do we have all of these seperate agencies? ATF, DEA, ICE, U.S. Marshalls, FBI, Border Patrol,

Comment: #2
Posted by: Barry
Thu Jan 20, 2011 11:33 AM
I love John Stossel except when I disagree with him, and I'm usually p*ssed off when that happens (little pet peeves like drug legalization views)! But here is another one I totally disagree with: "Pres George W Bush's eight horrendous years in office"...give me a break, John you of all people can put the pieces together that he had 9-11 to deal with and had to trade capital (political and monetary) to acheive some level of partisanship with a Democratic Congress and Senate. You have to throw liberals money for pet projects to get them to vote correctly on common sense conservative issues. George didn't have the benefit of waiting for a new election to deal with our security issues and didn't have a worshipping media throng like Obama to give him a bully pulpit. Horrendous is what we are seeing now not only fiscal policy wise but all other social policies as well. Thank God for eight years we had with that man. Think again on that one John.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Brendon
Thu Jan 20, 2011 12:52 PM
No. The Republicans will not cut....this time!!! They're more likely to slash their wrists before slashing any spending!!! In most instances, like the Democrats, they have shown no fiscal discipline. The worst part of the whole ordeal is that they cannot properly defend their spending, much less themselves, to the American public. Also, a good chunk of their voter base benefit from some sort of assistance from Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid,the same programs that Democrats support and Republicans oppose. If the Republicans even thought about cutting those programs their party's support would be shot to hell.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Damon Townsend
Sat Jan 22, 2011 3:40 PM
Re: Brendon

But didn't George Bush have a Republican House and Senate for 5 years AFTER 9/11? If he wanted to make the "common sense" cuts you're talking about he could have easily done that. The fact is neither party really wants to cut anything. If Bush wanted to cut spending he could have slashed a lot of wasteful programs and gotten Republicans to cut entitlement programs but he did neither. Stossel is 100% right on this one as usual.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Matt Raple
Sat Jan 22, 2011 6:21 PM
"How about foreign aid? (C)ut that out, and you would save around $1.3 billion"
How can they be expected to make effective cuts if they don't know the numbers to begin with? I'm looking at a chart that says for the last 10 years, just the top TWO countries (Israel and Egypt) on our foreign aid list have been receiving a combined 4 to 5 Billion dollars a year.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Allen
Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:20 PM
"Some of us talk about it. You have to touch on each one of these areas and until the American public is cognizant ... that we have to have shared sacrifice."

This means when we go bankrupt. Only then will both parties feel safe to talk about SS, Healthcare, Welfare and Defense. If they don't fix healthcare then all of these cuts will be redirected to healthcare. How much has prescription drug use increased since the drug bill was passed?
So back to your question, no they will not cut. We have so few people in government that want what is good for the country and instead ant what is good for themselves.
Comment: #7
Posted by: John Z
Mon Feb 7, 2011 11:49 PM
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