I’m going to be honest. I never liked the Republican Pledge to America. It wasn’t much of a governing document and completely lacked the sort of boldness needed to give a new Republican Congress a real mandate to fix the massive problems facing the nation. But the argument at the time was one of deliverables. House Republicans wanted to promise less and deliver more. Or so they said.
One of their key pledges was to shed a mere $100 billion “in the first year alone” to return non-security discretionary spending to the FY 2008 levels. Unfortunately (or conveniently), they did not specify whether they were talking about fiscal year 2011 or 2012 as the first year. This distinction is relevant because the Democrats failed to complete the spending bills for the current fiscal year (2011), and passed a short-term continuing resolution to keep the government operating until March, leaving decisions to still be made for fiscal year 2011. House Leaders are saying that because the fiscal year is already four months in that the $100 billion should be construed as “an annualized” or “prorated” figure and only half should be done now. (The distinction about the number of months into the fiscal year is also not particularly meaningful—just because the money has been appropriated to the agencies doesn’t mean that it can’t be rescinded.)
Thankfully 89 members of the conservative Republican Study Committee are arguing that the “first year” means exactly that—the first year—and that “the first step in restoring the trust of the American people…is, simply, to do what we said we would do during the campaign.” The RSC wants the full $100 billion in cuts to be included on the final continuing resolution that completes the fiscal year 2011 appropriations process. House Leaders are balking, forcing the 89 Congressmen to write their leadership in protest.
Is there some room for interpretation as to what was intended by the “first year”? Sure. But more importantly, why are House Leaders nickel and diming the American taxpayer when we’re facing a $1.5 trillion budget deficit? Given the fiscal straits that we’re in as a country, why not demand that the $100 billion (as promised) is a down payment in FY 2011 and demand even more in FY 2012? That would be leadership.
This is what the old House Republican majority use to do all the time—make promises and then either back track or try to wiggle out of them by employing the fine art of legalese. This is not what we elected. Check here if your Congressmen was one of the 89 conservatives who signed the letter, and if not, call and urge them to stick to their campaign pledge to cut at least the full $100 billion now.