“Hours before” the president proposed a spending freeze in in the State of the Union address, the Republican House took a small, but significant step in the direction of real spending control, voting “256-165 to slash spending this year to 2008 levels ‘or less’“:
Seventeen Democrats, mostly from the conservative Blue Dog Coalition, joined 239 Republicans in approving the measure. No Republicans voted against it.
Recall that a Democratic Congress (albeit one subject to a veto from a Republican president) set the spending levels for 2008. Too bad they didn’t go back to 2006 levels before Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats increased spending at a greater rate than did the prior spendthrift Republican Congresses.
This “proposed partial budget freeze” would be “on non-security related discretionary spending“:
The FY 2011 budget was $3.8 trillion; $1.415 trillion of which was discretionary spending. The president’s proposal would save, according to estmates, roughly $400 billion.
Last year President Obama proposed a three-year hard freeze on non-security discretionary spending, which White House officials said would save $250 billion over the next decade. (Non-discretionary spending includes items such as Social Security and Medicare
Ed Morrissey calls this freeze “a fallback position by a President afraid of losing his buying power with the public.” (Read the whole thing.)
This spending freeze will only lock the increased spending in place — and not just the increases of the past two years, but also of the two before that — not to mention the previous six years when George W. Bush governed with Republican Congresses (well, for the better part of the 107th Congress, Democrats ran the Senate).
The Republicans have a good idea in going back to a previous baseline, but they’re not going far enough back.
If the president is serious about holding the line on spending and reining in the deficit, he’ll have to do more than just offer a spending freeze, he’ll also have to acknowledge just how far back our spending problem goes and govern accordingly.
In his campaign, then-candidate Obama did recognize that we’d been “living beyond our means.” As president, he has yet to govern in the spirit of that rhetoric. The “net spending cut” he promised has instead become a massive spending increase. And now he wants to cut spending by holding that increase in place. No wonder Americans don’t think his rhetoric matches his record.